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Governor General’s Innovation Awards 2019 Recipients Announced

May 13, 2019

GG05-2018-0213-001 10/09/2018 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Close up view of the Governor General Innovation Award (GGIA) Trophies in the Front foyer of Rideau Hall on September 10, 2018. Credit: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG

 Six recipients from across Canada recognized for their groundbreaking work and excellence in innovation


Ottawa, ON – May 13, 2019 – Today the Rideau Hall Foundation announced the recipients of the fourth-annual Governor General’s Innovation Awards. These awards recognize and celebrate the exceptional Canadian individuals, teams and organizations for their excellence in innovation and their contributions to helping shape our future and positively impact our quality of life.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will present the awards to the winners during the GGIA ceremony on May 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

 The recipients of the 2019 Governor General’s Innovation Awards are:

Dr. Joelle Pineau

Montreal, Quebec

Dr. Pineau is a leader in the innovative application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to personalized and robot-assisted health care. She pioneered the development of algorithms to handle a special set of mathematical problems, known as partially observable Markov decision processes. These problems involve decision-making techniques where multiple choices are available over time to a decision maker, and where the agent lacks full knowledge of its context. The ability to handle these decision processes is at the core of machine learning, and her work stands as a foundation for several AI advances seen today.

 Nominated by NSERC 


The SmartICE team, represented by Trevor Bell, Shelly Elverum, Jenny Mosesie, Shawna Dicker

St. John’s, Newfoundland

Sea ice is not only a hunting platform and travel highway, it has for centuries defined Inuit culture and identity. Now, because of climate change, Inuit are increasingly concerned about their travel safety and the impacts that declining ice conditions are having on community wellbeing. Specially designed technologies such as the SmartQAMUTIK and SmartBUOY empower communities to monitor their own ice trails. For the first time such technology is being produced for Inuit communities by Inuit youth in Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homeland in Canada) and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit societal values and knowledge) is being combined with technical training for Inuit to operate and manage SmartICE services in their communities.

 Nominated by the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences 

Sweet Dreams Social Impact Bond

June Draude, Eric Dillon, Walter Mah, Donald Meikle

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

In virtually all cases, forcibly removing children from the family home because of child welfare concerns causes trauma to the child and the parent. To find an alternative solution to taking children into care, EGADZ Saskatoon Downtown Youth Center, community-minded investors and the Government of Saskatchewan came together to create Sweet Dreams, using an innovative financing tool – a social impact bond – a first for Canada. Sweet Dreams provides a supported living environment where the family is kept intact, and mothers are provided the tools needed to safely parent their children in the short, medium and long term. In the past five years, 53 out of 54 children remain with their Mom.

 Nominated by Innovation Saskatchewan 

Jad Saliba

Waterloo, Ontario

Jad Saliba, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, started Magnet Forensics to address the growing challenge police agencies face in the collection, analysis and reporting of digital evidence when investigating crimes such as human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and terrorism. In addition to consolidating hundreds of critical data types from smartphones, computers, IoT devices and cloud services, Magnet Forensics’ tools leverage artificial intelligence, advanced search techniques, and data visualization to help investigators uncover crucial digital evidence to convict or exonerate suspects. Their innovative products have become the global standard in digital forensics. They have contributed to the tangible reduction of police case backlogs, allowing victims of crime and the justice system see more timely resolutions.

 Nominated by Communitech

Dr. Garnette Sutherland

Calgary, Alberta

Towards improving patient care, Dr. Garnette Sutherland developed a high field intraoperative magnetic resonance (MR) system that provides surgeons with exquisitely detailed, 3-D MR images during an operation. This innovative technology has been used in over 40,000 neurosurgical patients worldwide. Within this environment, an image-guided robotic system called neuroArm was created, the world’s first robot capable of performing neurosurgery on a patient inside an MR imaging machine. neuroArm continues to be used in patients at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. The technology promises to make surgeries less invasive and more standardized, thereby improving outcome and reducing healthcare cost.

 Nominated by Universities Canada

Chief Dr. Ronald Ignace (Stsmel’cqen) and Dr. Marianne Ignace (Gulḵiihlgad)

Burnaby, British Columbia

Developed over several decades, Chief Dr. Ronald Ignace and Dr. Marianne Ignace have created the model of collaborative approaches to research in and with Indigenous people and communities. It is a new approach to knowledge mobilization and the development of methods that deeply respects and furthers understanding of Indigenous peoples’ connection with land and language. Their work successfully combined advocating and practising the deployment of western scientific knowledge in dialogue with the wisdom and knowledge of past and present elders.

 Nominated by Universities Canada

2019 Selection and Assessment Committees


The Governor General’s Innovation Award Selection and Assessment Committees are composed of distinguished individuals chosen for their expertise in and breadth of understanding of the Canadian innovation ecosystem.

Selection Committee:

  • Heather Munroe-Blum (Committee Chair), Principal Emerita, McGill University and Chairperson, The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • Charles Deguire, Co-founder and CEO, Kinova Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2016
  • Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO, Cirque du Soleil
  • Chief Clarence Louie, CEO, Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation
  • Kelly Gillis, Deputy Minister, Infrastructure Canada
  • Meredith Powell, Venture Partner, Voyager Capital

Assessment Committee:

  • Fred Morley (Committee Chair), Chief Economist of Tourism Nova Scotia
  • David Brown, co-founder and COO of Chinova Bioworks, Founder of Mycodev Group and GGIA Laureate 2017
  • Breanne Everett, physician, President and CEO of Orpyx Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2016
  • Kamran Khan, physician, Founder of BlueDot Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2018
  • Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research & Innovation OCAD University
  • Audra Renyi, Executive Director of World Wide Hearing Foundation, Founder of earAccess Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2017
  • Gena Rotstein, Principal Karma and Cents


For media inquiries, contact:

Michelle Paradis




Mila Pavlovic

Rideau Hall Foundation



About the Governor General’s Innovation Awards

Launched in 2016, the Governor General’s Innovation Awards inspire Canadians to embrace innovation and to emulate innovative, entrepreneurial risk-takers who have developed new or better ways of creating value and who are having a meaningful impact on our quality of life.

The Awards are given to individuals, teams and/or organizations whose innovations are:

  • Truly exceptional;
  • Transformative; and,
  • Positive in their impact on quality of life in Canada

Each year, up to six award winners are identified through a two-stage, merit-based selection process. This process is administered by Deloitte. For more information on the awards, visit


About the Rideau Hall Foundation

The Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF) is a registered national charity that brings together ideas, people and resources to enhance the impact of the Office of Governor General as a central institution of Canadian democracy. Working towards a better Canada, the RHF celebrates what is best about Canada while working with partners to meaningfully improve lives and foster the conditions for more Canadians to succeed and thrive. The RHF’s work spans four key programmatic areas and challenges for Canada, including: (1) learning initiatives that strive for excellence and promote equality of opportunity; (2) strengthening Canada’s culture of innovation, (3) widening the circle of giving and volunteering; and (4) building and celebrating excellence in Canadian leadership, and increasing public awareness about and commitment to Canada’s multi-faceted democracy.


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