We are so grateful to all who joined us on September 30th, 2020.  As a community that supports the potential of girls and youth, you helped us raise over $1,000,000 in support of Big Sisters’ programs and celebrated six amazing women who exemplify the Big Sisters’ legacy and shape our future.

Patricia Shields

“Positive role models can open doors and minds so youth see opportunities they may not have otherwise considered. Through mentoring, youth gain confidence and understand that with hard work they can accomplish their goals and become the best they can be.”

Patricia Shields became involved with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland over 20 years ago with the donation of a car. She had left several messages with various charities in hopes of finding a beneficiary. Fortunately, it was the Honourable Janet Austin – our Executive Director at the time – who was first to call her back. Before she knew it, Patricia had been recruited to volunteer her expertise in education. 

Patricia is a retired teacher, principal and district consultant, who is currently working with several BC school districts as an early learning education consultant. Originally from the interior, she moved to the Lower Mainland to study at UBC and stayed on to enjoy a 30-year career with the Vancouver School Board. Patricia has always had a passion for education and working with youth, and is motivated by her desire to give all children the same opportunities that she had growing up. She is appreciated for pioneering province-wide educational programs to ensure that all children have access to opportunities their families might not otherwise be able to offer them and ultimately to have the tools they need to succeed. Patricia has created educational programs and opportunities for children through collaborations with various non-profit organizations. They include the YMCA, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Opera Society, TELUS Vancouver Community Board and, of course, Big Sisters.  

For Big Sisters, Patricia co-developed our Study Buddy program – a one-to-one mentoring program that provides tutoring to at-risk youth from low-income households. She also set up our Education Advisory Committee – a team of talented individuals who advise on the curriculum of our Study Buddy and Go Girls! programs, and use their networks within the school districts to ensure vulnerable youth are more easily able to access our programs. For these gifts, she was recognized by our agency with a Big Heart award in 2005.  

But she didn’t stop there. Patricia continues to provide her expertise and offer up her connections as a long-time member of our Honourary Advisory Committee. Her commitment to Big Sisters is a testament to her belief that the best way forward for youth to succeed is through one-to-one support. She strongly believes in the research on what it takes for youth to overcome their struggles and reach their full potential, and according to her, it’s the involvement of one-to-one mentoring support that consistently shows up in the literature. “Youth with difficulties in their life who have successfully negotiated these difficulties have had at least one significant, consistent person in their life,” says Patricia. “This has been so extensively researched.” 


Last year, the Province of British Columbia honoured Patricia with a Medal of Good Citizenship for her exceptional long-term service and contributions to her community. We are honouring her this year for her long-time service to Big Sisters, the deep impacts she’s made in our programs and for her commitment to bettering the lives of children through the power of education. 


Our 2020 Luminary Award Recipients

Her Honour, Janet Austin
Joanne Brown
Kay Gray
Linda Parsons
Patricia Shields
Susan Mendelson