Calgary flood response leader and environmental advocate honoured

July 23, 2014
Stephanie Harrington

A leader in the field of emergency response and a tireless champion for the environment and human health will each receive Royal Roads University Alumni Awards on September 11.

The Royal Roads Alumni Leadership Award recipient is recently retired Calgary fire chief Bruce Burrell, who was at the helm of a nationally-recognized team in 2013 that guided Calgarians through the worst flooding in Alberta’s history. The Alumni Excellence Award winner is Renay Eng-Fisher, who has dedicated her life to helping others – and the environment – in rural China, and in the Calgary area.  

“For almost 20 years Royal Roads alumni have been successfully applying what they have learned to their lives, work and communities and these award recipients are excellent examples of that success,” said Royal Roads University president and vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon. “They are changing attitudes and changing lives in Canada and abroad – outstanding achievements that we are honoured to recognize with these awards.”

Bruce Burrell has more than two decades’ experience in emergency management, rising through the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant, operational captain and finally manager of safety for Halifax Fire and Emergency where he was part of the city’s response to Hurricane Juan in 2003. He moved to Calgary in 2005 as chief of the Calgary Fire Department, and in that same year assumed the role as director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency. Burrell was the operational voice during the 2013 Calgary floods, overseeing 7,000 emergency responders, city staff and volunteers as 75,000 residents were evacuated during one of Canada’s worst natural disasters. Burrell graduated with an MBA in 2012.

Renay Eng-Fisher has dedicated her life – and her father’s memory – to helping others where human health and ecological needs overlap. A year after graduating with a Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication, Eng-Fisher travelled to her father’s village of Nam On in southern China to learn how she could help abandoned and orphaned children. In 2007, she founded the Eco Village of Hope Society to support the health and well-being of children in isolated and impoverished villages like Nam On. Since then, she has extended the group’s reach to leprosy recovery villages and migrant worker villages in Yunnan province where living conditions are among the worst in the country. Closer to home, Eng-Fisher has spearheaded benefit concerts for the Okotoks and Red Deer food banks since 2008.

The two recipients will receive their awards at a reception on Thursday, September 11, at The Parkside Hotel and Spa from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Royal Roads University hosts the Alumni Awards, celebrating leadership and excellence in outstanding alumni who have become agents of change in their communities. The awards are also open to former cadet alumni of Royal Roads Military College. Both institutions have a combined tradition of leadership education and a commitment to service dating back nearly 75 years.