What do Rita Bruneski, Joey Ellis, Lorne Fisher and Sylvia Pranger have in common?
They’ve each stepped up to support their community for years on end. And on Wednesday afternoon, the community came out to return the favour.
Several Agassiz area residents were awarded with Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals, in a ceremony at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. The event was hosted by MP Mark Strahl, and included awards for 30 residents from a variety of backgrounds around this riding.
Four of those awards were for Bruneski, Ellis, Fisher and Pranger. Another went to Mountain Institution prison chaplain Rev. Angus Haggerty, and yet another to this riding’s former MLA Barry Penner.
Those from Agassiz were welcomed with a large support crew, including Mayor John Van Laerhoven and several members of the Kent Harrison Search and Rescue team.
Bruneski is a member of the SAR team, along with a long list of other achievements, and said she was thrilled to find out she was receiving the medal.
“I sometimes think I’m just a person in the background helping out,” she said. And like many of the 60,000 Canadians who have received this honour over the last year, she doesn’t set out to volunteer with the intent of earning accolades.
Being named a recipient gave Bruneski a chance to learn more about the Jubilees.
Strahl explained that the commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The medal honours Her Majesty’s service to Canada and Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their community.
Many organizations were given the authority to award the medals to a varying number of people within their realm. Some of the recipients from Strahl’s office were given their medals in a presentation last week, in Pemberton.
Locally, Sylvia Pranger was unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony.
In addition to those mentioned above, Strahl awarded the following people with the medal: John Blessin, Ernie Crey, Shirley Dargatz, Rolland Fox, Jim Gaetz, Hans Jeschek, David Jimmie, Richard (Gwyn) Joiner (posthumously), Peter Kenward, Francis and Esther King, Warren King, Ana Macedo, Allen McEwan, Glen Ringdal, Crist’l Roshard, Earl Rowe, Glenda Standeven, Laurence Stinson, Ted and Ann Stoker. Harald Throness, Grant Ullyot and Richard Zervini.
The following biographies are transcribed from MP Mark Strahl’s presentation on Wednedsay afternoon in Chilliwack.
Rita is a lifetime member, past president, and current secretary and treasurer of the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association, treasurer for the Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue Team Society, and an important facilitator of the Agassiz Fall Fair & Corn Festival. Her volunteer work with charities and community organizations make her an inspiration to others in her community and the surrounding district. For her outstanding contributions to her community, it gives me great pleasure to award Rita Bruneski with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Josephine Ellis, fondly known as “Joey” to those who know her well, has spent her entire life serving and volunteering in many capacities. She spent her career working in Corrections where she served above and beyond the call of duty, receiving both the Award of Excellence from the Treasury Board and the Meritorious Service Medal. It is impossible to name all of Mrs. Ellis’s achievements, but they include the creation of the Caring on the Inside program, chairing the Chain Link HIV/AIDS group at Mountain Institution, receiving the Certificate of Appreciation from the Canadian government in 2005, receiving the International Year of the Volunteer Award in 2001, volunteering as a member of the Agassiz – Harrison Lions International club, where she has been president and secretary, volunteering at the Kilby museum, and volunteering in countless other ways throughout her community. It is with great pride that I present Josephine Ellis with this Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal as recognition of her years of service to our country and our community.
Lorne Fisher is a former mayor of Kent and a current councillor for the District. Previously, he served as the Head of Animal Science at the Pacific Agricultural Research Center in Agassiz, and was a Research Scientist Emeritus. He worked passionately as an agricultural researcher for the government of Canada for over 30 years and has brought that same passion and zeal to his work serving the residents of Agassiz and the District of Kent as a mayor, councillor, and school board trustee. It is my honour and privilege to present Lorne Fisher with this Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his continued service to his community and his country.
Sylvia Pranger is a former mayor and councillor for the District of Kent and is currently a commissioner with the Agricultural Land Commission, acting as the commissioner for the South Coast Panel. She has a long history of active involvement in her community, going beyond service as mayor and councillor, and has received various awards for her work, including the Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. This includes volunteering at the Kent Harrison Healthy Communities Committee and the Youth Diversion Board of Directors, and acting as past president of the Harrison-Agassiz Rotary Club. She is also the co-founder of the Kent Harrison Foundation, which is a community foundation that provides grants to deserving members of the community, and has played an active role with the Agassiz Agricultural Association for a number of years. It is a pleasure for me to present Sylvia Pranger with this Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to her community.