Twelve residents of Labrador West were presented with the highly honoured awards last week.
The medals were created to honour Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne as Queen of Canada, and were awarded to Canadians who have made significant achievements or contribute to their communities, their provinces, or to Canada.
Peter Penashue, Member of Parliament for Labrador, awarded the medals to Harold Clarke, Toby Leon, Peter McCormack, Peter Reccord, Thelma Rickets, Gerry Rideout, Alec Snow, Denise Cranford, Jim Farrell, Dave Finlayson, Jean Kelly, and Tony Lawrence, for their involvement in a wide variety of volunteer endeavours, charitable organizations and other community initiatives in Labrador City and Wabush.
Gerry Rideout said he was proud to receive the medal.
“I don't volunteer to get recognition; I get pleasure out of doing that stuff. I don't do it for the credit, but it was really nice to get. When you get something from the queen, it’s nice.”
Rideout said volunteering or giving back to the community is something everyone can enjoy.
“Once you start associating with new people then you'll start making lots of new friends. And you get satisfaction out of seeing projects going on or seeing things work out.”
He said it’s also something anyone can do.
“Rather than staying around home watching TV or something, get out and find an organization that needs help. It might just be a minor job, but that's just as important as the big jobs. It all has to be done to make it a success. No job is too small or too big when you're volunteering.”
Toby Leon said the award validates that people are appreciative of the effort put into volunteering.
“I'm retired and spend about 35 hours a week volunteering, sometimes 60, and there are weeks when you think, "What the hell am I doing this for?" And the recognition kind of makes it worthwhile. Not that you do it for the recognition, but when somebody notices it's quite rewarding.”
The 12 recipients join the ranks of 60,000 Canadians who will be recognized during the year of celebrations.
Leon said the reception had a room full of people who gave very generously of their time and effort into their community, but even more could have been there.
“There was a ton more people who also deserved it. A core of people who never turn down a cause or a need, always there to help out. But all of the people who received accolades were well deserving.”
He also said it’s good to see Labrador West residents getting recognized for their work.
“I go to an event in St. John's and I see more than one person wearing an Order of Canada medal, and I think there are people up here who have served their community for a long, long time and have received no recognition from any level of government. I see people well deserving of those kinds of accolades.”
Leon said after wondering for so long if Labrador West was forgotten, it was nice to see Penashue take the time to acknowledge residents.
“It was great to see it happen to people who have worked hard to make this community better. We're on the edge of nowhere, left to fend for ourselves. And I’m not sure if people realize how much fending for ourselves we do here.”
Being recognized was a great honour Leon said he wouldn’t forget.
“I'm sure there were lots of people who will deserve it more, but I'm not going to give it back,” he laughed.