A national tour paying tribute to caregivers is making a stop in Thunder Bay today.
Canada Cares is looking for nominations for exceptional caregivers across the country, said tour participant and paralympian Joel Dembe.
Dembe said people hear about the many elderly and disabled people needing care, but the people giving it — whether family members or health professionals — don't get much acknowledgement.
"We've not focused on the people delivering the care, which is the caregivers. And, you know, when I look back at my life it was my mom and dad. And I think this is kind of my way of saying 'thank you'."
Dembe, who is also known for being a Canadian Wheelchair Tennis Champion, will meet with Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs and visit long-term care facilities and the Children's Centre.
"What we're seeing is the sacrifices that [caregivers are] making. And a lot of them feel that they're alone in this,” Dembe said.
“You'd be surprised about ... the amount of people who are saying ... they can't believe ... that there's ... an organization now that's talking about this."
Canada Cares reports one in four people in Canada looks after a family member.
"Caregiving is a thankless job, but we're out to change that,” said Caroline Tapp-McDougall, chair of Canada Cares.
The group provide a network for caregivers to talk and offer emotional support.
During the tour, the team will hand out hundreds of gift cards, spa vouchers and caregiving materials. Those materials include the message to caregivers that they're not alone.
They are also promoting nominations for awards. The categories are family caregiver, professional caregiver, caring business (such as businesses that give people time off to care for loved ones), and caring communities.
Anyone can submit a nomination online at canadacares.org, by mail or by video until Sept. 15. The awards ceremony will take place in November at the Canadian Home Care Association's annual summit in Banff, Alta.
The tour, which is travelling in an MV-1 — a $40,000 wheelchair-accessible vehicle that will be given away at the end of the journey — will also make a stop in Kenora.