The Mayor of Ottawa and the Councillor for Knoxdale-Merivale Ward presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Catherine Wilcox at City Council today in recognition of her contribution to Ottawa through music and outreach.


In 2008, Catherine Wilcox started the Ottawa New Horizons Band. Initially an outreach program of Dominion-Chalmers United Church, the band welcomed adults with little or no musical ability and provided them with an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Since those humble beginnings, which featured 35 adults, the program has grown. Now in its tenth year, the Ottawa New Horizons Band has grown to include more than 200 members and eight bands. The non-profit corporation now operates with an annual budget approaching $100,000, thanks to Mrs. Wilcox’s dedication and leadership.


Each year, through band concerts, Mrs. Wilcox and the Ottawa New Horizons Band raise money for organizations such as OrKidtsra and Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. Mrs. Wilcox is responsible for identifying, recruiting and mentoring bandleaders, organizing concerts, purchasing instruments, securing rehearsal space and organizing get-togethers.


Mrs. Wilcox cares deeply for all band members. In the past 10 years, more than 700 adults have participated in one of the bands. If someone is ill or stressed, Mrs. Wilcox often visits them and brings food, companionship and a good ear. Many participants are seniors and note that band rehearsals and performances provide them with a fun activity while reducing their isolation and sense of loneliness.


The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements.