On Saturday, May 11, we celebrated seven physicians at the 2024 Doctors Manitoba Awards Gala, generously sponsored by MD Financial and Scotiabank. With about 600 guests, the signature event was a chance to honour our winners, welcome our new President Dr. Randy Guzman, and connect with colleagues.

The atmosphere was electric as winners approached the stage to their chosen walk-up songs (you can listen to them on our Spotify playlist here). The first acceptance speech offered moving words from Douglas Arnell, the spouse of the late Dr. Dick Smith, who was honoured for a lifetime of care and advocacy for the 2SLGBTQ+ community with the Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Award. He spoke ardently of his husband’s life work, with a reminder that the progress made must be continually upheld and never taken for granted.

Two of the organizations that were part of Dr. Smith’s legacy were selected as beneficiaries of the evening’s fundraising. They include the life-changing programs and services provided by Rainbow Resource Centre and Our Own Health Centre. Generous guests raised $27,950 through the Rainbow Raffle, with a grand prize of $10,000 cash and a second prize of two roundtrip tickets anywhere WestJet flies.

Collaboration and community were also the focus of Medal of Excellence winners Dr. Sara Goulet and Dr. Kristel van Ineveld. Dr. Goulet thanked those who provided her with cultural teachings she could draw from to connect with the people in the communities she serves, while Dr. van Ineveld said she was grateful for being able to work alongside advocates for geriatric health, including her husband, a fellow doctor. Family was another theme of the evening, with Resident of the Year Dr. Lerly Luo recognizing her parents’ bravery and sacrifice in building a new life in a country where their daughter could thrive. 

The evening’s program included the ceremonial passing of the chains of office between outgoing President Dr. Michael Boroditsky and incoming President Dr. Randy Guzman. Part of the Doctors Manitoba tradition includes having someone important in their life assist with this ceremony, and Dr. Guzman chose his daughter, Catherine, now a third-generation physician. He spoke of his parents’ journey from the Philippines, eventually bringing them to Winnipeg to pursue pathology and pediatrics. 

In his speech, he shared the perspective and intention for his new role, and one you will hear about in the year to come: connection is protection.

Following the introduction of the president, the awards continued with the awarding of the Medal of Excellence to Dr. Helen Pymar. Her walk-up song, Under Pressure, encapsulated part of her career as a proponent of free access to contraception and the resulting movement that delivered results for Manitobans. 

Next, Dr. Stephen Kowalski received the award for Distinguished Service, bringing the guests to their feet with a standing ovation reflecting the esteem in which he is held by his many colleagues and the bonds he formed over his four-decade long career as an anesthesiologist, critical care expert and educator. 

In the final award of the evening, Dr. José François was recognized as Physician of the Year, for his efforts as a champion of rural, northern and francophone physician training and the role they have played in helping to turn around the family doctor shortage in our province. 

We present again our 2024 Doctors Manitoba Award winners with a link to video profiles that were first shared at the gala: 

Dr. José François Physician of the Year

Dr. Stephen Kowalski Distinguished Service

Dr. Dick Smith Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Award (posthumous)

Dr. Lerly Luo Resident of the Year 

Dr. Sara Goulet Medal of Excellence 

Dr. Kristel van Ineveld Medal of Excellence 

Dr. Helen Pymar Medal of Excellence

For longer-format biographies of our 2024 award winners, visit the Doctors Manitoba 2024 Awards Recipients page.

Nominations for the 2025 Doctors Manitoba Awards will open this fall.