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Who We Are

Ontario & Nunavut Division supports the mission of the MS Society of Canada: to be a leader in finding the cure for MS and enabling those affected by MS to enhance their quality of life.

Ontario & Nunavut Division activities include special event fundraising, advocacy and government relations on issues such as funding for drug treatments and the delivery of services to those with MS. To find out more about these activities and their impact on the lives of those with MS, read the current Impact Report of the MS Society.

Ontario & Nunavut Division has a strong community presence with chapters and units across the province. View the listing of chapters/units to find your local chapter.

Leadership to Ontario & Nunavut Division is provided by a volunteer board of directors. The Ontario & Nunavut Division board is comprised of individuals who are committed to advancing the interests of all stakeholders of Ontario & Nunavut Division. View the list and the biographies of the 2012 - 2013 board of directors.

Impact report archive:

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2014-2015 Ontario & Nunavut Division Board of Directors


Marie Vaillant, Chair

Marie has been a dedicated volunteer with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario & Nunavut Division for a number of years. She first joined the Ottawa chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in 2000 as a member-at-large and has held a number of leadership positions including director of development, vice-chair and chapter chair.  Marie facilitates one program - MS 101 - in the chapter client services department.   

At the Ontario & Nunavut division level, Marie has been chair of the client services committee, and was a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Ontario Division board nominations committee for three years.  Nationally, Marie was a member of the renewal initiative task force.

In addition to volunteering with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Marie has been involved in the community with the YM/WCA and as Treasurer and President of HOPE (helping other people everywhere). Marie has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Toronto. In 2007, Marie won the Division Award of Merit Member for her commitment to the Ottawa chapter. She is married to Gordon Keith a graphic designer and artist. Gordon is an active fundraiser and volunteer with the Ottawa chapterIn 2011 Marie received the Ontario Division Sir David Flavelle Award.

Valerie Hussey, Past Chair

Valerie currently serves as secretary on the national board of the MS Society, chairs both the national government relations committee and national governance committee, and has chaired the MS Society of Canada Ontario & Nunavut Division board from 2012-2014.  Valerie is a former publishing executive who played a leading role in the evolution of the Canadian children’s publishing industry for more than 30 years. She was variously owner, Publisher, President and CEO of Kids Can Press from 1979 to 2006. Since 2006 she has worked as a consultant to the non-profit sector, primarily in arts and education.

Harold Lenfesty, Vice-Chair

Harold Lenfesty is a member and director of the MS Society's Ontario & Nunavut Division. Mr Lenfesty currently serves the Society as a vice chair and Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee. He also contributed to the Ontario Chapter Relations Committee and to the MOA working group during 2013.

Professionally Harold is Principal of One80 Strategy Advisors lnc. His clients include The University of Toronto, the Professional Skills Development lnstitute and the Diabetes Leadership Foundation. His practice areas are strategy, deployment, leadership, governance and conflict resolution.

Harold also serves as director on the Board of the Silverhill Environmental Research Foundation and VHA HomeCare. Harold is also a member of the VHA audit committee.

He was educated at the university of Toronto, York University and Osgoode Hall Law School and holds degrees in Business, Social Science and Law (ADR).

Robert Blais, Treasurer

Robert has been involved with Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada,  Ontario & Nunavut Division for several years. He served as the treasurer of the Sudbury chapter from 2003-2007. He is currently the treasurer of the Ontario & Nunavut Division board and a member of the Ontario & Nunavut Division finance committee.  Robert holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University and is a member in good standing of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. Professionally, he is a partner with the accounting firm, Collins Barrow Chartered Accountants/Comptables agréés in Sudbury. Robert is the Treasurer for Les Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne du Grand Sudbury, 2011 and the treasurer for Jazz Sudbury. He is a member of the investment committee and the former President of the Sudbury Community Foundation.

Karen Torrie-Racine, Secretary

Karen has been a dedicated volunteer with Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Ontario & Nunavut Division for many years. She is currently the secretary of the Ontario & Nunavut Division board and is the chair of the chapter relations committee. Karen has been very active with the Cornwall & District chapter for over 28 years and has held a number of leadership positions including serving as chapter chair three times. She has assists with the treasurer role and currently is the education director, public relations director and has been the volunteer office manager since 1992.

Karen is a graduate of Algonquin College and majored in Marketing with a specialty in Advertising and Promotion. Karen was diagnosed with MS in 1985 and experienced annual exacerbations with the worst being in 1990 resulting in an 11-week hospital stay and being unable to move anything below the neck for that time.

Although Karen’s son has attended university and is now finishing up college, she still participates in her local school board and is still an active member of the Catholic Education Coalition since it was established in 2001. She has been married to her husband Thom for 30 years and is very proud of her son Jarrett.


John Duffy

John Duffy has been involved in the MS Society in Wellington County for some 15 years. His first involvement was as logistics coordinator for the MS Walk (a role he still fills) and more recently as a chapter board member and chapter chair.  John’s commitment to the MS Society stems from his dear sister Joanne who is living with MS.  John is President of Triumph Tool, an industrial distributor based in Guelph. John has an MBA from Western University (Richard Ivey School of Business) and an undergraduate degree in science from the same institution. John has been married for more than 20 years and has three children. His hobbies include skiing and cottaging with his family.

John Ellis

John was most recently the Honorary Legal Counsel on the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Ontario & Nunavut Division board and is a member of the governance and nominations committee.  In 2009, John was the recipient of the Division Award of Merit for his work with the Hamilton chapter. John has volunteered with the Hamilton chapter for over 23 years and has assumed many roles during that time including the position of chapter chair.

He practices law in Hamilton and is married with two adult children.

Elizabeth Flavelle

Elizabeth is a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario & Nunavut Division board and is currently a member of the client services committee. Professionally, Elizabeth had a 27 year career with the Ontario Government in a variety of ministries and positions including parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Correctional Services, an economist in the Ministry of Treasury and Economics and manager of Ontario Government Employees’ Volunteer Programs. She was a policy advisor and trainer in the access and privacy field, Management Board Secretariat.

She has been active in a number of organizations including the Kingsway Park Ratepayers Association, the Kingsway Business Improvement Area and the Toronto Police Services (TPS), 22 Division Community Police Liaison Committee.  She received the 2010 TPS John Herra Memorial Award (volunteer of the year).Elizabeth has volunteered with the Junior League of Toronto, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, Mariposa Folk Festival and chaired the Women’s College Hospital Foundation. Elizabeth’s father, Sir David Flavelle, established the Ontario & Nunavut  Division Sir David Flavelle award to honor the outstanding contributions of a volunteerShortly after moving into a condo in downtown Toronto, Elizabeth was elected as a director of her Condo Board.

Andrew Gage

Andrew is a current partner with an innovative marketing consultancy with extensive senior leadership, marketing, operations, finance, business development, business process improvement and acquisition experience with both large and small/medium size businesses. Andrew has an MBA from the University of Toronto and BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

Kathryn Giles

Dr. Kathryn Giles is a neurologist. After graduating from the University of Toronto and doing her neurology residency in Toronto, she moved with her family to Cambridge, Ontario. For 23 years she has practiced general neurology in Cambridge. She sees people of all ages, and with all neurologic conditions.  She does however have a special interest in MS and has a large MS practice.  She is a passionate educator. For many years she has been involved in lecturing and teaching family physicians about MS, and other neurologic conditions. She is also involved in educating patient groups about MS. In addition to teaching, she does research in MS, and is currently involved in 4 large clinical trials. This is her second term on the Ontario & Nunavut Division Board at the MS Society of Canada.  This volunteer position provides another forum in which Dr. Giles can advocate for people living with MS.

When not practicing neurology, she leads an active lifestyle and loves spending time with her family at their Haliburton cottage.

Kent Kirkpatrick

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Kent began his municipal career 1983 in the Public Works Department at the Town of Carleton Place.  In 1985 he joined the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton where he held a number of progressively more senior positions, including Deputy Treasurer, Director of Financial Services, Finance Commissioner and Treasurer.

When the new City of Ottawa was created in 2001, Kent was appointed General Manager of Corporate Services where he directed the successful amalgamation of the corporate support services of twelve former municipalities.  He has served as City Manager of the City of Ottawa since March 2004 and oversees the operation of the second largest municipality in Ontario with over 17,000 employees and a budget in excess of $2.6 billion.

Throughout his career Kent has been an active member in the community in which he lives and works. From 1988 to 2000 he served four consecutive terms as an elected member of the council of the Town of Carleton Place. He is an active member on several boards and associations including the Public Sector Accounting Board and the Ottawa Chapter and Ontario & Nunavut Division Boards of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Tom Knowlton

Following his MBA, Tom’s career spanned over three and a half decades. Tom’s early years were in brand management and advertising with Colgate Palmolive, General Foods and Leo Burnett. Tom then spent 20 years with the Kellogg Company where he held the President’s position in each of Canada (83-89); the United Kingdom (89-92); Europe (92-94) and USA/North America (94-98). Upon his early retirement Tom returned to Canada and became Dean of the Faculty of Business at Ryerson University. Tom has been a Director on a number of Boards including the Hudson's Bay Company, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and Sun Rype Products. He currently sits on the Boards of Invesco Trimark, Fabri-Kal and Cadillac Fairview.

Tom is married with four grown children, four grandsons and one granddaughter. Tom has a close personal connection to MS since his youngest daughter was diagnosed with MS six years ago. 

Robert Messervey

Prior to joining the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario & Nunavut Division board, Rob was the chair of the Peterborough chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada for six years. Prior to that, he was chair of the MS WALK Committee for the York North chapter for five years. In 2013, Rob was appointed as chair of the boundary work group, a key element of the renewal process.  He has also served as a member of the Ontario & Nunavut division nominations committee and the chapter relations committee. Rob has a family connection to MS, supporting his sister who has had MS for 20 years.

Rob is the Chief Administrative Officer for the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority located in the Kawartha Lakes Region near Lindsay where he directs the delivery of programs and services which focus on water resources and maintaining a healthy environment.  For many years, Rob served in senior management with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, where he was involved in negotiations with the eight U.S. Great Lakes States and Quebec in establishing international agreements to protect the Great Lakes.

Rob is a downhill ski instructor for able-bodied and disabled skiers, and coaches long-distance running clinics.

Sandra Montague

Sandra is a CGA with extensive leadership experience gained in different industries.  Her background also includes several years of non-profit board experience including serving as a member-at-large for the Toronto chapter, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, a position held since 2009. As a member of the executive committee since 2010, she is the treasurer for the Toronto chapter.  Sandra assumed a role on the Ontario & Nunavut Division board in 2011, where she serves on the finance committee.   Sandra’s professional background includes leadership in finance, IT, payroll, logistics, HR and Quality Control, providing a broad range of senior organizational management experience.  Sandra was born and raised in Toronto and holds a BA from Ryerson University.  As an avid cyclist, Sandra took part in the 2010/11 & 12 RONA MS Bike Tour from Acton to Waterloo with her team “Small but Mighty!”  Sandra is honoured to serve on the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Ontario & Nunavut Division board, working towards maximizing the quality of life for persons with MS.

Beth Nelligan

Bethhas sat on the London Middlesex chapter board, of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada since 2009 and has also been chair of the board.  Beth is a chartered accountant and a manager in the Assurance Group with Ernst & Young LLP in London, Ontario. Her primary responsibility is oversight and management of the execution of various audit and review engagements for private mid-sized companies.  Beth also focuses on healthcare organizations and has specific knowledge and experience in the accounting and auditing practices of not-for-profit organizations. In addition to volunteering with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Beth was the treasurer on the board of directors of the Epilepsy Support Centre in London and sits on the Finance Committee at the London Hunt and Country Club.

Cathy Topping

Diagnosed with MS in 1977, Cathy has been with the Elgin MS Society since 1978. She has volunteered for many functions held by Elgin MS Society and held positions of Vice Chair, Secretary, and Social Action.  She has been given awards from local community, Ontario MS Society as well as Ontario government for the "Thumbs Up" program.  As an advocator for Accessibility within her community as well as Ontario, she served on the Built Environment Standards Committee. At present she is a member of the Ontario & Nunavut MS Board and Chair of the Ontario & Nunavut Social Action Committee.

Patrice Walch-Watson

Patrice Walch-Watson is an experienced and respected corporate/commercial and securities lawyer who has advised some of Canada’s largest public, private and government businesses in ‘bet the company’ transactions. She has expertise in governance matters and in leading, planning, negotiating and implementing strategic transactions for clients, and advising boards and management on the legal aspects of these important transactions.  Her experience extends to a broad range of complex domestic and international business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, financings, various securities transactions and privatizations.

Patrice has been a partner at Torys LLP, a respected international business law firm, since 1999 and has been with the firm for over 20 years.  She received her LLB from Queen’s University (1991) and her BA (Honours, Political Science) from Wilfred Laurier University (1988). Patrice was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1993.

Patrice is an officer of several corporations and is involved with several charities. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Bar Association, the Women’s Executive Network and the Institute of Corporate Directors. 

Patrice is familiar with the struggles faced by people living with MS as she has had several family members who have been diagnosed with the disease. She has participated and fund-raised with the MS Walk with her family and friends for a number of years.



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Our Mission :
To be a leader in finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and enabling people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life.

Ontario & Nunavut Division
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
250 Dundas Street West, Suite 500
Toronto, Ontario M5T 2Z5

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