Queen bestows special honour on 20 valley residents

Joan Gillatt and Mike Coleman are just two of a long list of Cowichan citizens honoured with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals. - Peter W. Rusland/file
Joan Gillatt and Mike Coleman are just two of a long list of Cowichan citizens honoured with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland/file

You always knew Cowichan was full of special people.

Apparently, so does the queen.

On Wednesday, Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder announced a total of 30 residents of her riding had been honoured with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, including 20 from Cowichan.

“My riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan has some outstanding constituents who have devoted much of their time to their community,” Crowder said in a press release.

“Our office received many nominations and 30 constituents were chosen, by a selection committee of community members to be awarded with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for their efforts and service.”

Crowder will be joined by Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley in hosting an awards presentation ceremony Monday, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Island Savings Centre Mesachie Room in Duncan.

The local honourees include:

Joan Gillatt, Duncan

Joan Gillett’s community service includes Children and Youth Leadership with Cubs and Brownies, 10 years as a Cowichan School Board Trustee ,Four years as School District Board Chair ,Joan spent 9 Years on Duncan City Council and she was awarded the highest honor the City of Duncan can bestow “Freeman” also she has years of volunteer work with the ,Cowichan Lodge Senior Care Facility, Cowichan District Hospital Board, Cowichan United Way, Community Futures, Duncan United Church and many other volunteer roles over the years.

Betty-Anne Devitt, Crofton

For nearly 25 years, six days a week, Betty Anne Devitt has provided food hampers and meals to the most vulnerable people in our community as a volunteer leader and member of the board of the Cowichan Valley Basket Society.

Chuck McCandless, Duncan

Chuck McCandless  is a warm soul and is a very special Canadian Mental Health Association Outreach worker here in the Cowichan Valley, Chuck works tirelessly ,often behind the scenes as he advocates for homeless people and he helps those who are in need

Michael Coleman, Duncan

Michael Coleman ,Lawyer and Community leader for 40 years ,Mike spent 22 years as City of Duncan Mayor, he was instrumental in the creation of the such agencies as the Hiiye Yu Lelum (House of Friendship, Cowichan United Way, Family Life, Big Brothers, Community Futures, Legal Aid, Cowichan Valley Bar Association , Cowichan District Hospital Foundation and in 2010 he was awarded Awarded the honorary designation of Queen`s Counsel.

Hazura Sangha, Duncan

Hazura has been a board member of Volunteer Cowichan for 10 years. He is committed to literacy, multiculturalism, health, and supporting students in his home village of Langeri, Punjab, India. Hazura is committed to his community and is a model volunteer.

Leslie Sjoberg, Duncan

Leslie has been the President of the Cowichan Music Festival for 30 years. Besides her commitment to the arts community, Leslie was also a tireless volunteer for the Parent/Teacher Associations of her children’s schools. Leslie also found time to volunteer for the Heart and Stroke Association.

Samuel A. Beldessi, Lake Cowichan

Samuel was recognized by the Town of Lake Cowichan for his work and dedication in planning, fundraising and overseeing the building of the affordable housing complex for seniors, Evergreen Place. He has also been an active member of the Lake Cowichan Lions Club.

Lynn Morrison, Chemainus

Lynn’s volunteerism began at an early age and continues today. It was her key initiative to found and maintain the Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank. She has served on many boards and committees spanning the arts, youth, environment, athletics and many other sectors.

J.S. (Woody) Hayes, Duncan

Woody is a well respected community member and dedicated contributor to the accounting profession. His community service includes founding the Duncan CA Club and acting as Governor for VIHA. Woody supports the BC Cancer Agency with initiatives such as the Lee Hayes Golf Tournament.

Roy Large, Duncan

Roy has been a volunteer with St. John Ambulance for 48 years. In this role he has been dedicated to fundraising, attending various events to provide first aid services, and enabling Cadets to further their first aid knowledge. Roy is a tireless volunteer for his community.

Violet George, Duncan

Violet, a Cowichan Tribes elder, was a thirty year volunteer for the Tiny Tot Nursery in the 1960s, while raising her twelve children. She offers her home to visitors and for various community events. Violet voluntarily teaches the Hul’qumi’num language and culture weekly.

Sandra Heydon, Chemainus

Sandra has been a pillar of the Chemainus community since her arrival in 1955. Her community involvement includes the Festival of Murals, Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary, and the Chemainus Seniors Centre. She also plays piano for local seniors.

Catherine Marion Schmidt, Duncan

Mrs. Schmidt has volunteered in the arts and education fields for the past 17 years, working with the Special Olympics, Parent Advisory Councils and theatre. Her contributions to these fields of endeavour are outstanding and she continues to give her time to the community.

Steven Gergel, Duncan

Mr. Gergel is a legendary instructor in the Cowichan Valley. Through his unselfish commitment and desire to see his students succeed, he has encouraged and supported thousands of students. These students continue to use the gifts and passion that were nurtured under the mentoring of Mr. Gergel.

D.R. (Dan) Little, Duncan

Dan is a prominent and respected member of the business community and has committed much of his time to voluntary and community service in areas of business and finance, education, hockey, and more.

Laura Finch, Mill Bay

Laura brings creative energy to solving social and environmental issues. As a bridge-builder, she brings people together across boundaries of race, language, political party and ideology. Her friendships with Cowichan elders have nurtured a community of “one heart, one mind”.

William Somerville, Duncan

Lt. Cdr. Somerville began his career by joining the Sea Cadets and has since spent much of his time giving back, acting as Commanding Office of the Pat Bay Training Centre. In 2006, the new branch Navy League Cadet Corps was named in his honour.

Arnold Hepton, Duncan

Arnold has been an active Rotary Club member since his time in the Royal Navy. He has been active with many organizations in the Cowichan region including the Salvation Army kettle campaign, Cowichan Sportsplex, and Providence Farm, to name a few.

Jim Harnden, Duncan

Jim has been active in his community for many years. He has volunteered with food drives, hockey events, parking events such as the Carol Trains and Special Woodstock, book sales, and visitations to ambulatory Lions Club members. Jim is truly a community leader.

John Ryan, Malahat

John has enjoyed a diversified career that includes international experience as corporate director, senior manager, public servant and entrepreneur. He has worked with youth as a volunteer for a large part of his life and has been a volunteer with numerous not-for-profit organizations.

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