Three local residents being inducted into City’s Awards of Excellence program

July 21, 2021

This year’s Awards of Excellence inductees include an accomplished professional ice hockey player, an internationally known epilepsy advocate, and a dedicated student volunteer. 

Spruce Grove locals Nathan Dempsey, Ann O’Connor, and D’arci Sutton are all being acknowledged for their outstanding commitment and contributions to the community. Dempsey is being recognized in the Athletics category, while O’Connor and Sutton are both being recognized in the Significant Achievement category.

“It is a privilege to recognize each of these three incredible individuals with an Award of Excellence,” said Spruce Grove Mayor Stuart Houston. “They all have, in their own ways, contributed to our great city and we are so proud of their accomplishments.”

Nathan Dempsey – Athletics

Nathan is a former professional ice hockey defenceman who played professionally in Europe, the NHL, the WHL, and the AHL where he was a three-time All Star Game player. Nathan is a lifelong Spruce Grove resident and while his career took him around the globe, after retiring in 2008 he settled in Spruce Grove with this family. From coaching local hockey to starting a summer hockey school and taking part in numerous hockey charity events, Nathan has never been far from the rink. He is currently leading the hockey program at the Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton where he is a role model and leader for his students.

Ann O’Connor – Significant Achievement

Ann is a mother to three boys and works as an education assistant for Parkland School Division. She is deeply committed to her community having served on several boards and in 2004 Ann founded an epilepsy support group to help connect locals going through similar experiences. Ann herself started having seizures at a young age and later underwent significant brain surgery followed by a long and challenging recovery. She is an author and international four-time award winning keynote speaker who inspires audiences around the world. 

D’arci Sutton – Significant Achievement

D’arci is known for her incredible academic, musical, and athletic achievements and is the recipient of numerous honours and scholarships. She is also known for her dedication to volunteer service and was recognized as the Diabetes Canada 2020 Volunteer of the Year. D’arci is currently an undergraduate student with the University of Alberta.

The trio is being inducted into the Awards of Excellence program at a private reception later in the year.

The Spruce Grove Awards of Excellence program was established in 2003 as a way for the City to recognize outstanding community members who have made contributions in the areas of athletics, arts, education, the environment, innovation, community service or significant achievement. Past inductees include Stephanie Labbé (2017), Jonathan Giovannoni (2017), Ed Huber (2011), Lorna Kemp (2010), Dr. Donald LeGatt (2008), Allan Shenfield (2006), Judy Kesanko (2005) and Jennifer Heil (2005). For more information on the program, including all the recipients, visit