“If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, maybe volunteering should be it,” he suggests, encouraging members of Ottawa’s queer community to get involved. “I want people to understand that they don’t have to give up too much time. Even an hour a week, an hour a month, an hour a year can make a huge difference in somebody’s life.”
When the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was allotted close to two dozen Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to distribute Jan 25, Denis Schryburt’s name easily made the list, says the agency’s head of public affairs.
“Denis embodies the true spirit of a public servant,” Janice Snyder says. “In everything he does, both at work and in the community, he’s serving the public. He makes a great contribution to making his community a better place to live in.”
Schryburt began his career on Parliament Hill as the press secretary for heritage minister Liza Frulla. He then ran MP Ruby Dhalla’s office before transitioning to his current position as the supervisor for public opinion and inquiries at CFIA.
An integral part of Ottawa’s queer community for more than a decade, Schryburt has volunteered on several organizations and managed countless events.
Gary Leger works with Schryburt as the community vice co-chair of the Ottawa Police Service LGBT liaison committee. Leger says it is Schryburt’s selflessness that sets him apart from other philanthropists.
“He puts the community’s interest first. It makes a big difference. A lot of people walk in with self-serving interests,” Leger says. “Out of everyone that I’ve worked with in the community, Denis is probably the one I’ve had the best working relationship with.”
“It’s such a great reward to give back to the community,” Schryburt says. “I’ve been part of the community in Ottawa my entire life. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Schryburt also worked as director of regional development on the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (OGLCC) for five years.
OGLCC president Ryan Tolofson says Schryburt has played a key role in expanding the chamber’s reach outside Toronto.
Schryburt says he considers staging OGLCC’s 2011 summit in Ottawa as his greatest accomplishment with the organization.
Schryburt has also sat on the boards of Pink Triangle Services, the Prosperity Long-Term Care Fund and the AIDS Walk for Life. He says his personal triumph came in 2011 when he founded Eat 2 Defeat Diabetes.
Diabetes runs in Schryburt’s family. Eat 2 Defeat Diabetes raised $5,000 for Camp Banting, for diabetic kids aged eight to 15. Attendees of the camp learn how to manage their disease and avoid complications in the future.
Schryburt is hoping to stage a follow-up event Nov 14 to coincide with World Diabetes Day. He says if you are going to devote your time to a worthy cause, you should be prepared to give it your all.