Recognition received in droves

Sam Koffski appeared on The Dragon’s Den. - Andrew Leong/file
Sam Koffski appeared on The Dragon’s Den.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

The Cowichan Valley was chalk full of people and organizations receiving local, provincial, national, and international honours and hitting impressive milestones. This list is by no means complete, but it highlights, in chronological order, some of the proudest moments in 2012.

•  The year started with the birth of Jackson Anthony Ryan Jordan, Cowichan’s first baby of 2012. Mother Cary Ann Jackson gave birth by unplanned cesarean section to the five-pound, eight-ounce bundle at 9:28 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

• It was a banner year for the News Leader Pictorial’s Pennies for Presents campaign. Between the NLP’s Huge Book Sale and the Pennies for Presents fundraiser the total monies raised was $17,300.

• It was an emotional moment for 83-year-old Duncan curling legend Glen Harper when he learned the Duncan Curling Club facility on Sherman Road would now be known as the Glen Harper Curling Centre.

• Graduation rates were up across the board in Cowichan, but no more so than for Aboriginal students.Data showed the Aboriginal graduation rate at 55.1 % — up from 35.6 % the year before, and 34.2 % the year before that.

• Duncan’s Island Savings moved its Duncan customer service branch from its downtown headquarters to a new location in the Duncan Mall. The new 9,300-square-foot space is part of Island Savings’ three-year, $15-million upgrade and expansion plan.

• Cobble Hill’s Emily Dorma’s five-year-old Havanese show dog was honoured as best in breed during the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show in New York city — the most high-profile dog show in the world.

• Ladysmith’s Frank Taylor received a Medal of Bravery from Canada’s Governor General. The recognition stems from the heroic rescue of Saltair resident Roy (Ted) Silvey, who was trapped in his home as it burned on July 22, 2008.

• Duncan-raised Sgt. Maj. George Parrott, a career soldier, earned one of Canada’s highest military awards, the meritorious service medal, during a lavish ceremony Jan. 26 in Ottawa’s Rideau Hall.

• Curbside organics pickup started in May in North Cowichan. Green organics bins were delivered to some 9,200 households.

• Ken McKinnon, co-founder of Cobble Hill’s Pacific Builders’ Supplies, was named recipient of this year’s Black Tie Lifetime Achievement Award. McKinnon, who at one time owned three truss facilities in Cobble Hill, Surrey and Cranbrook, received the award at the Black Tie Awards hosted by Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce at the end of April. The Business Achievement Award went to Chad Conrad of Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse and Bar.

• The Truth and Reconciliation Conference stopped in Duncan in March. Most who attended were optimistic it marked only the beginning of a new chapter to rectify the cultural catastrophe forced upon First Nations People here and across the country. “As we heard yesterday, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re in the midst of a historic opportunity,” said Commissioner Marie Wilson, who pointed out more than 2,500 people from 12 countries watched the Truth and Reconciliation Conference via the internet. She wasn’t alone. “It’s great to see all these people here listening, taking in stories, hearing and growing,” said Indian Residential School Survivor Committee member Barney Williams Jr., 72, who attended two residential schools in B.C.

• Gale force winds, heavy rain and icy sleet didn’t stop Ryan Thirlwall’s Tutu Walk for Hope as he reached the Boys & Girls Club in Victoria after walking all night from Nanaimo. Thirlwall’s 126-kilometre walk in a bright pink tutu and tights was an effort to raise money for a bullying awareness program through the Boys & Girls’ Club.

• As seen on TV, Sam Koffski’s Workhorse II invention received a $75,000 investment from Dragons’ Den millionaire Arlene Dickinson. The Workhorse II is an adjustable, use-anywhere sawhorse/workbench brackets. “I’m on cloud nine,” Koffski, 82, said after a national airing of CBC’s popular Dragons’ Den. In another televised victory, Duncan couple Carol Dirom and husband Bruce, owners of Port Hardy’s Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. won the CBC show The Big Decision. Marketing maven and business investor Arlene Dickinson agreed to help the struggling Port Hardy company with 80 employees overcome their financial challenges.

• The Cowichan Sweater and its Coast Salish creators were recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. A government press release stated, “Since the late 19th century, Coast Salish women have combined ancient wool-working technologies with European knitting to make Cowichan sweaters. These internationally recognizable sweaters have contributed to Coast Salish identity and aided Coast Salish cultural continuity when faced with the challenges of the loss of traditional resources.”

• John Bishop, 81, was the first Cowichan Valley resident of the year to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. During Bishop’s 37-year military career, the 20-year Cobble Hill resident fought in Korea, commanded a military school in Ghana, mediated arms supplies in Vietnam in 1973 and served as Canada’s representative at the Korean peace talks in the early 1980s.

• Joe Thorne was the latest in a series of Cowichan residents to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. The Duncan councillor was saluted Dec. 13 for his work with Canadian war veterans. 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.

• Cowichan Bay’s Kalliana King added another prestigious award to her growing list of accolades. The 11-year-old who dyed her hair pink then shaved it off to single-handedly raise $14,600 for muscular dystrophy Canada picked up the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. She was one of just 28 Canadians to receive the award from Gov. Gen. David Johnston on April 17.

• In April, the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre opened its doors. “You can see the little barnacles opening their mouths!” exclaimed Louise Dwyer, peering into a gurgling tank of sea critters at the new Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. “And if we frighten that sea cumber, it would lose all its innards.”

•  Cowichanians set a world record. At least 2,000 people worked out together in a giant fitness circuit at the Cowichan Sportsplex in April, annihilating the previous U.S. record of 317 people. “History in the making — I love it,” said Morne Van Niekerk, who kept the massive crowd upbeat with encouragement on the microphone.

• Winning a provincial Aboriginal Youth Champion Award was huge for Cowichan teenager Lizzie Thorne. But then, so was her work in Bolivia last year on awareness of violence against women and her current role in youth involvement with Cowichan Tribes.


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