Thursday, 26 October 2017 09:39

Canada 150 medal presentation celebrates people’s contributions

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David Anderson addresses the crowd at the Canada 150 Celebration. David Anderson addresses the crowd at the Canada 150 Celebration.

The contributions of southwest Saskatchewan residents to their communities were recognized at a Celebrate Canada 150 medal ceremony in Swift Current.


Cypress Hills-Grasslands Member of Parliament David Anderson hosted the reception and medal presentation for 34 recipients at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, Oct. 20.
“There wasn’t a Canada 150 medal that would be minted this year,” he said. “So we just decided in the riding that we were going to get a medal and recognize people. We did an open nomination process. We had almost three dozen people nominated from their own friends and neighbours and so tonight we were just celebrating their contributions to their communities across southwestern Saskatchewan. It was a great night.”
Nominations fell into five categories – nation builders, veterans, bridge builders, newcomers building Canada, and tomorrow’s Canada for young people under 20. Each recipient was presented with a medal that can be worn on the chest as well as a personal certificate to recognize their contribution.
“I think the most touching moment of the night was when we had a veteran from Normandy who came forward and he got a standing ovation,” Anderson recalled. “I don’t know that there was a dry eye in the house when we’re done giving him that ovation.”
Gordon Hartley, who was born and raised in Swift Current, is the last living Normandy veteran from the Second World War in the city. He enlisted in July 1942 and served until March 1946.
“I can’t really tell you how I feel, except like I’m on cloud nine maybe,” he said about receiving the medal. He was surprised to receive the standing ovation from the large audience after his medal presentation.
“I said to Mr. Anderson, I didn’t expect this,” he recalled. “I didn’t do anything more than anybody else. I just can’t fathom that I’m any different than anybody else for what they’re doing every day of their lives.”
He joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals during the war and served as a signalman in England and Europe. He landed 16 days after the main Normandy invasion in June 1944. He was attached to the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade during their advance from France to Belgium, Holland and eventually into Germany.
Hartley, who is 94 years old, was treated for tuberculosis at Fort San after the war and he lost the use of one lung.
Former Morse resident Darlene Nicholson, who now lives in Swift Current, was recognized as a bridge builder for her efforts to preserve the 1912 school in Morse as a heritage building.
“It means a great deal to be recognized for it,” she said. “I love the place and so I just worked hard to look after it, and I'm very happy. The people that nominated me, one was one of our summer students and the other was one of our board members. So to get the two nominations made me feel very proud, but there's an awful lot of worthy recipients here tonight, much busier people than I am, but I'm not young anymore. So I think I'm starting to slow down.”
She was a founding member of the group that organized in 1980 to save the former school building. As a result of their efforts the provincial government issued an order to prevent the building’s demolition and eventually the Town of Morse declared the building a municipal heritage property.
The building re-opened as the Morse Museum in 1987 and it is still in active use for art exhibitions, various community events as well as a nationally recognized school program.
“I loved the building and it just didn't seem right that it could be torn down and demolished,” she said. “It was part of history. It was a very lively town back in 1911 and 1912 when the settlers were coming. So it just seemed that it should be saved. I think that built heritage is important.”
Mohamed Abdelhamid of Swift Current was a medal recipient in the category for newcomers. He arrived in Canada from Egypt in 2009 and he received his Canadian citizenship in 2016.
He is the owner of a janitorial business in Swift Current and a partner in a 24-hour towing company. He felt happy and proud to receive this medal.
“It makes me want to have more success, building more new business, create more jobs, and be completely part of this country,” he said. “They say America is a dream land, but I’ll tell them no, Canada is the dream land.”
He appreciates the friendliness of the people in Saskatchewan and the opportunities to create your own success in Canada.
“Here it’s fair, everybody equal, you can do whatever you want to do,” he said. “The market is free and open, do it. If you want to start a business, start a business. … People are going to be happy when they see you succeed.”
He is partnering with a newcomer who came to Swift Current as a refugee to develop another business venture and he is also working on another idea with international business partners.
Janise Michel of Eastend was a medal recipient in the category of tomorrow’s Canada for her leadership role as a student. In addition to her academic and musical achievements at school, she was a leader of the school’s We Day Committee that raised over $65,000 for Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon at a gala in Eastend in January 2017.
“It's just really great to be recognized and to know that the community and our MP has noticed all the contributions that we've made to our community,” she said. “So it's really nice to come here and hear what everyone else has done as well.”
She is currently studying new media and management at the University of Lethbridge. The We Day Committee at Eastend School was also nominated for a Celebrate Canada 150 medal and she accepted it on their behalf.
“I think it really proved that it's possible for a school of our size to make such a huge contribution,” she said about their success. “We only have about 100 students, K-12, and I think there was a lot of people out there that didn't think we're going to be able to raise even $30,000 and we proved them wrong.”
Anderson felt the medal presentation was an appropriate way to give recognition to people.
“I believe that our country is only as strong as the communities within it,” he said. “We celebrate the people who have been community builders, and who have brought people together. These individuals, and usually they’re a small number in a community, are the glue that really give our communities their strength.”
Below are edited exerpts from the nominations received for the medal recipients from southwest Sask. from Friday, October 20.  They were read at the medal presentations. There were also others from outside Prairie Post’s coverage area that are not included. For photos, check the front A section of the Oct. 27 paper:

Mohamed Abdelhamid, Swift Current – Newcomers Building Canada
Mohamad came to Canada from Egypt in September of 2009.  Since that time, he has purchased and partnered in several business in Swift Current and has seen those businesses grow and prosper.  He has partnered with Syrian refugees and he was awarded his Canadian Citizenship in early 2016. Mohamed’s desire to grow and succeed was not just for himself bur for others.  Mohamed was given a hand-up and he has paid it forward.  He is very happy when others also succeed as this shows a true entrepreneurial spirit.
Lindsay Alliban, Hazlet – Bridge Builders
Lindsay is a person who has a vision for her community and small rural Saskatchewan.  She sees a future and the development for the young people of this community and others.  The words “no we can’t do that” is not in her vocabulary.  I can go on and on with all the positive projects she has done for our community.  Lindsay is our economic development officer, but she also puts in many countless volunteer hours for many of the projects our community does.  She has the compassion and drive to keep rural Saskatchewan alive.  As Lindsay would say, “We can make it work.”
Joy Barsness, Frontier – Tomorrow’s Canada
Joy’s skills were utilized in her school as yearbook editor, SRC vice president, student body rep on the school community council, and helping in the kindergarten class.  She has helped coach beginner skaters, organized and participated in church youth group, and taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School.  Joy’s passion and commitment to music is evident to anyone who has heard her sing and play at recitals, festivals, worship services and community events.  When Joy graduated last year, sharing valedictorian duties with a fellow student, acommon comment heart that evening was, “What are we going to do without Joy?”  We are all looking forward to seeing where she will sue her gifts in the future.
Maksym Bilan, Swift Current – Newcomers Building Canada
Maksym’ssearch for work has taken him to Poland and Spain and now his family is with him on this adventure to Canada.  Immediately you can sense his personal strength of character, likeability and intense desire to perfect his English. He has brought to Canada the best of European craftsmanship.  Maksymvalues hard work, loyalty and friendship, educational opportunity and appreciation for our wide open spaces and all that it offers to himself and his family.  He has made his new home in Swift Current.
Dallas Block, Shaunavon – Bridge Builder
Dallas does amazing work at Rock Solid Refuge.  He has spent the last ten years working with 13-18 year old male adolescents struggling with life controlling issues.  Dallas is a hard-working man with vision, desire, perseverance and commitment.  These qualities have helped to build Rock Solid Refuge into a safe place where young men can learn to make wise choices, learn to excel in their education, learn life skills and overcome these life controlling issues through faith, discipleship and mentoring. 
Wilfred Boon, Lucky Lake – Bridge Builders
Mr. Boon was unable to attend the medal ceremony, but he will receive is medal at a later date. Willie is a retired farmer from Lucky Lake.  He has been a very hands on community involved asset to our community for the past five plus decades.  Willie is well known in curling leagues throughout the province having competed in many bonspiels and advanced to nationals to represent Sask.. He is a dedicated volunteer to both the Lucky Lake Community Center and the Lucky Lake Health Care Center.  He was one of the driving forces to push forward with a new community centre in the early 1980s and it is still the Center piece of our community.  Because of this dedication and commitment that our community has seen from this man, I do believe he is a Bridge Builder.
Michael Evans-Smith, Swift Current – Veterans
Mr. Evans-Smith’s award was accepted on his behalf by Lori-Anne Schmaltz Michael Evans-Smith is an unknown hero in the midst of our Constituency.  Michael served as a Canadian in the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969.  His decorations include the Vietnamese Service Medal with two stars, a Presidential Unit Citation, aVietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a Purple Heart for wounds receive in combat, the Bronze Star for heroic action under fire, a Meritorious Unit Citation, and a Combat Action medal.  Few people know that some 40,000 Canadians served and sacrificed in this war.  Michael is now retired and lives quietly in our community often helping newcomers with legal issues and ensuring they have access to all the rights and freedoms that the rest of us take for granted, and for which he fought.  Michael is very humble in nature and few if any in the community know of his sacrifices.  I would think that in our 150th Year of Celebration, it is imperative that we recognize not only his service and sacrifice, but bring to light this often unknown and often forgotten group of men.
Evelyn Fossum, Frontier – Nation Builders
Evelyn Fossumwas born south of Frontier to pioneers of Norwegian heritage.  She learned a strong work ethic and compassion for others at an early age.  She has served many local organizations diligently.  A few of these include the Bethel Lutheran Ladies Aid for 60 years, the Frontier Museum Board for 30 years, and the Senior Citizens Centre for 30 years.  She has assisted many seniors to remain in their homes and has made countless trip to visit people in nursing homes.  Her work and dedication have helped to make Frontier a great place to be!  Timothy Geiger, Leader – Bridge Builders
Tim has been committed to the rural municipality of Happylandfor the past 26 years and has worked hard in growing the municipality into what it is today.  He started as a councillor from 1991-92 and in the fall of 1992, Tim was elected as Reeve, a position he still holds today.  Tim has always been an active community member who will take the time and effort to see a project through which is evident by the various community committees he has been involved with.  He has played an integral role in the development of an integrated health facility concept in the community and surrounding areas.  This collaboration has resulted in the announcement of building approval for a new integrated facility in Leader.  Throughout his tenure in municipal government he has demonstrated excellent leadership and has provided outstanding service to the municipality, surrounding community and province.  He is a true community leader and a worthy recipient.
Bula Ghosh, Swift Current – Newcomers Building Canada
Ms. Ghosh came to Canada as an immigrant in 1981.  Bula works full time and is a dedicated volunteer in the intercultural sector.  She is an avid spokesperson of the disadvantaged in ourcommunity.  Presently, she is he Chairperson for Newcomer Welcome Centre and Southwest Multicultural Association.  She believes in the value of retaining her cultural traditions, while respecting and learning from other cultures in the process of her integration as a Canadian citizen.  She makes a difference in the lives of people she touches – a positive role model and unassuming down to earth humble person.
Gordon Hartley, Swift Current - Veterans
On July 16 1942, Mr. Hartley enlisted to fight for Canada in the Second World War and continued to do so until March 1946.  During his war service he was in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.  After the war he was treated for tuberculosis at Fort San.  During this time he lost the use of one lung and has lived with this for 68 years.  He worked for the Sask. Government for 25 years until he retired.  He is the last living Normandy veteran in Swift Current.
Mabel Hobbs, Maple Creek – Bridge Builders
Mabel is a soldier of the Maple Creek Salvation Army Corp.  Their doctrine is “Heart to God and Hand to Man” and she has followed the motto with her church and many organizations in the community.  She has volunteered with the Red Shield Campaign, food drives, Christmas kettles and packing food hampers.  Mabel has been a teacher for almost 30 years at rural, Hutterite and federal prison schools.  She is a past volunteer tutor of ESL with the Cypress Regional College and the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge. Mabel truly deserves to have this recognition in her community of Maple Creek.
Glenn Honey, Frontier - Nation Builders
Glenn, along with his brother Greg, is a founder and owner of Honey Bee Manufacturing.  Glenn is a graduate of the University of Calgary with a degree in computer science.  He was working on the family farm when he convinced his brother Greg to return home to farm and develop equipment with him.  What started as a as a small business on their farm in Bracken, Saskatchewan has grown into an international company that serves OEM John Deere, Case and New Holland along with placing product in over 50 countries.  Glenn has a passion for the company, it’semployees, Sask. and Canada.
Greg Honey, Frontier – Nation Builders
Greg Honey is one of two founders and owners of Honey Bee Manufacturing, a worldwide supplier of Harvest Equipment.  Greg, the President of Honey Bee is also a key innovator and designer.  Greg has been instrumental in growing the business from a small Quonset on the family farm to the current facility of over 120,000 square feet that employs approximately 200 people in Frontier, Saskatchewan.  The business has been in operation for over 38 years. 
Roy King, Birsay – Nation Builders
Roy King is a recently retired irrigation farmer from the Birsay area.  Roy has dedicated hundreds of hours over the years to the BirsayWater Users Irrigation Project.  This project was engineered in the mid- 1980s and Roy was one of the original promoters / supporters of this massive project.  He became the Chairman of the BirsayWater Users Association until he sold his farm.  The project has consumed a lot of time and a lot of effort through the years.  Roy always seemed to find the time to work through the red tape issues with municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.  I’m quite sure that today, the Birsay Water Users Association still call on Roy for advice or information about this “State of the Art “ Irrigation project.
Peggy Koethler Swift Current – Nation Builders
Peggy is a child of an immigrant and a grandchild of a homesteader.  Her grandfather homesteaded southeast of Swift Current in 1906.  Her parents farmed in McMahon area and Peggy is still a farmer today, together with her husband Philip.  Peggy was a teacher in the Chinook School Division for 37 years.  A few of the organization she has volunteered with include the MCC Thrift Store, the SPCA bookstore, and Zion Church Women in Mission.  She also maintains the country cemetery where her family us buried near McMahon and often visits shut-ins and seniors.  She received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002.
Tom Luchenski, Lucky Lake – Bridge Builders
Tom moved to Lucky Lake in 1984.  He served on Village Council for many years as both an Alderman and Mayor.  Tom did an excellent job on Council, always looking out for Lucky Lake and never being afraid to call a spade a spade!  Tom being a pilot was very instrumental in working with our local municipalities, provincial and federal government departments to put forward aplan to fund and build a paved lighted air strip in Lucky Lake.  Tom has been involved with the CoteauHills Rural Water Association since it was formed.  This is a multi-million dollar project that was engineered by PFRA that provides raw water from Lake Diefenbaker to three communities, one HutterrianColony and to any local farm that subscribes to the service.  The dedication that Tom Luchenski has shown to this community definitely make him a Bridge Builder.
Janise Michel, Eastend – Tomorrow’s Canada
Janise’s commitment to her school work led her to achieve an academic average in the mid-nineties.  In her Grade 12 year, Janise spent much of her time leading her fellow students and Eastendschool in organizing a gala and auction.  Over $65,000 was raised that evening for Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon.  Janise’s passion for music is obvious to anyone who has seen her perform.  She has received many awards at music festivals and has been selected to perform at the Provincial Festival several times. She is always a favorite performer at community events and willingly uses her gift each week to lead worship at her church.  We all look forward to seeing what her contribution to Canada will be in the future.
Brad Nelson, Frontier – Nation Builders
Brad has been a key manager and driving force behind three international businesses that have been located out of Frontier, Saskatchewan: FriggstadManufacturing, Flexi-coil and Honey Bee Manufacturing where he currently serves as the CFO.  On top of his work commitments, Brad has served on numerous boards including Sask. Energy, Briercrest Family of Schools, Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, Bethel Lutheran Church and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Advisory Board.  In his spare time, he served as the Mayor of Frontier for 12 years.  The excellence accomplished in each of these roles makes Brad Nelson a National Builder. 
Darlene Nicholson, Swift Current/Morse – Bridge Builders
Despite being a busy wife, mother and entrepreneur, Darlene recognized that the 1912 school in Morse, SK needed preservation as a heritage building.  In the early 1980s, with the wrecking ball hovering, Darlene was instruments in the incorporation process, gathering support of Heritage Saskatchewan and the approval of the village council to purchase the building.  The Morse Museum opened its doors in 1987.  This community gem continues to thrive 30 years later, with nationally recognized school programming, art exhibits, annual fundraisers and community events year-round.  The driving force has always been Darlene, with leadership, ingenuity, partnerbuilding, tenacity and community values.  It would be a well-deserved honour to celebrate this amazing woman who continues in her 80s to quietly do what she loves.
Gerald Olson, Swift Current/Tomkins – Nation Builders
Gerald owned a ranch near Tompkins SK, where he grew up.  He was involved for many years in the Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Beef Export Federation, Sask. Stock Growers Association.  He served as a Councillor and Reeve for the RM of Piapotand a trustee on the Gull Lake Hospital Board.  He was very active in his community Lions Club, Credit Union, United Church and Legion. After enjoying retirement for a few years, he decided to run for Mayor at the Resort Village of Beaver Flats where he served 4 years.  His ability to connect with people, his immense generosity and willingness to help have made our community, Sask. and Canada, a better place.
Dr. Maria Cristina Pennington, Lucky Lake – Newcomers Building Canada
Cristina immigrated to Canada from Brazil in 1975 and has tirelessly contributed to the betterment of Canada.  For 20 years, Cristina raised her family while travelling and representing Canada in 7 different countries while her husband served as a Canadian Diplomat.  While overseas she continuedto volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society and organizing Terry Fox Runs.  In 2012, Cristina settled in Lucky Lake.  Cristina has a Doctor of Education degree and currently teaches at LCBI High School.  She continues to give to the community doing monthly visits to senior homes and shelters.  Cristina, with her ambition and selfless caring, has brought to Canada the Christian spirit of giving.
Jacqueline Powell, Swift Current – Bridge Builders
Jacqueline has spent many years working with and for those with special needs. She is employed by the Saskatchewan Abilities Council and is highly qualified as a coach and mentor.  She has given of her own time to many volunteer activities in swimming, especially for the Special Olympics since 1995.  Jackie has great empathy with the participants and for the last four years she has been working with young children with physical disabilities, giving her time and experience as a volunteer in the pool. 
Shelly Rusnell, Riverhurst – Bridge Builders
Shelley has given decades of volunteer work to the community.  She has tirelessly given her time and energy to others.  She is a First Responder, a volunteer Fire Fighter, and has been a Girl Guide Leader for approximately 20 years.  She has been a Village of Riverhurst Councillor for 2 terms.  Every community has those special people who shine with enthusiasm and community spirit.  Without them our world would be a bit darker place. 
Millie Spagrud, Gull Lake-Bridge Builders
Millie is a dedicated mother, farm partner (retired to town), gardener, and very involved citizen.  Millie’s greatest contribution to our town Gull Lake and area has been in a musical capacity.  Millie was, for many years, a much-loved piano teacher (recently retired), a Senior and Junior choir pianist, a school band program and music festivals accompanist, and she is still active as Knox United Church’s pianist and a member of local bands.  She is well-known, respected, and cherished in southwest Sask.. 
Jason Tangen, Swift Current – Bridge Builders
Jason is a dedicated and hardworking citizen who is very involved in his community and family.  He is an officer with 605 Tarry Air Cades which he began about 13 years ago.  He cares greatly for each cadet and their welfare and devotes countless hours to the cadet program.  He is a member of Legion Branch #56 since 2011, serving on Legion council and became Parade Commander for the Legion in 2016.  He is an exceptional father andevoted grandson, always helping friends and family. 
Jerry Wiens, Beechy – Bridge Builders
Jerry has been an instrumental part of the Beech Fire Department.  He goes above and beyond for the call of duty as a volunteer firefighter and Fire Chief.  He has given up thousands of hours volunteering over the years and brings people o together for the good of many causes. 
We Day Committee, Eastend School, Eastend – Tomorrow’s Canada
While attending the We Day Celebration in Saskatoon in 2016, the students of the We Day Committee at EastendSchool set themselves a goal of raising $30,000 to adopt a room at the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon.  Although this total seemed impossible at the time, the students’ hard work led to the Raising Hope Gala in January of 2017.  In the end, the student did not raise $30,000, they raised $65,000!  These students deserve to be recognized for their compassion for people who are in distress, and their willingness to do the hard work that made their dream come true.

Read 274 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 October 2017 12:26
Matthew Liebenberg

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