On Monday night, we gathered at the Ottawa Convention Centre to watch GTEC give out its Distinction Awards in six categories to teams and individuals on the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

People had come out dressed in their finest – tuxedos, little black dresses, and evening gowns – to celebrate the transformative work their fellow public servants have done over the past year.

After we had all been seated in the Ottawa Salon, the honourees entered accompanied by bagpipes from the Cameron Highlanders. Nancy Dorigo, executive director of GTEC, welcomed us to the gala, saying that the Distinction Awards have become a Canadian icon.

Daniel Watson, chief human resource officer for the Treasury Board Secretariat, gave some opening remarks before the medals were presented.  In his address, he said that the government has an impact on every aspect of our society, from the food we eat to the roads we drive on, and that it is in this context that we celebrate the recipients of the Distinction Awards.

The honourees were named and the awards handed out by winners from last year’s gala. Between categories, we were shown videos of honourees explaining why the work they do matters: from data protection to the simplification of processes to providing tax filing services online, it was evident that the honourees were proud of their accomplishments.

Corinne Charette, CIO, delivered the closing remarks.

“It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to recognize the ICT community across Canada,” she said. “Canada has, per capita, one of the best ICT communities in the world.”

She added that it was good to see municipalities, provinces and the federal government coming together to recognize each other’s work.

May I be honest? I am not a public servant, and I’ve never really given much thought to the work that goes on behind the scenes in the government. I was lucky enough to attend the gala as a journalist. I think what struck me the most is the amount of work and dedication that public servants pour into these transformation projects – many of which improve services that a lot of us take for granted.

So congratulations to all the winners! It’s well deserved.

And before I sign off, here’s a piece of trivia for you: two recipients of the Distinction Awards – the BC Services Card and PWGSC’s Transformation of Pension Administration – were also recipients of CGE’s Leading Management Change Awards last February.

Amy Allen
Amy Allen is a staff writer with Canadian Government Executive magazine. You can connect with her at amya@netgov.ca.