Thirty-three men and women who have shaped the community of Abbotsford and its future were awarded Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals for their contributions at a ceremony Friday night.
The medals were presented by Abbotsford MP Ed Fast and Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen to 25 of those recipients in person at Abbotsford city hall, where well-known radio voice Bob Singleton was the master of ceremonies.
Abbotsford’s former mayor George Ferguson received a huge cheer and a standing applause for close to 40 years of service to the community in public office.
A handful of recipients were not able to attend the evening, including former mayors Harry de Jong, Dave Kandal and George Peary, who was to be presented his medal by Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong when the two meet in India.
Collectively, the recipients had put in thousands of hours of service and have changed the quality of life in the community.
Some of the areas in which they have contributed included the impoverished, business, addiction, faith, health, multiculturalism, politics, journalism, citizenship, the arts and the environment.
“Our recipients will become role models of selfless service to future generations. We are truly richer for those contributions,” said Fast.
Abbotsford Mission MLA Randy Hawes and MLA Marc Dalton will present Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals to Mission resident nominees at Mission city hall on Nov. 5.
Randy Kamp, Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge – Mission MP, will present medals on Nov. 3. The venue is not yet known.
The 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipients are:
Rudy Baerg: Rudy has been involved in the musical life of the City of Abbotsford since 1962, teaching music as well as conducting choirs and instrumental groups. As head of the music department of Columbia Bible College for 30 years, he performed concerts and oratorios for the community. Baerg was founding director of Valley Festival Singers and had the opportunity to work with many local singers and musicians over the course of 25 years. Baerg represented the region as a charter member of the B.C. Choral Federation and for the past 19 years has been active on the Valley Concert Society board of directors. Baerg said he finds it rewarding to give amateur musicians opportunities to perform and to broaden the musical experiences of our community.
Mitch Borrows: Mitch Borrows is senior pastor at Abbotsford Christian Assembly and has served the last 11 years on the executive committee of the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network. As ACLN chairman for the past eight years, Borrows has united the pastors and leaders of local churches in meeting the practical, social and spiritual needs of Abbotsford. Borrows also served as the chairman and president of the Cyrus Centre for At Risk Youth since its inception six years ago. Close to Borrows’ heart is effective drug and alcohol recovery in Abbotsford. For this reason, Borrows serves as president of the Samaritan Inn Recovery Homes for Men. Borrows loves Abbotsford and the amazing people who live here and counts it a privilege to serve them.
Capt. Ted Bowman: Capt. Bowman is a member of the Canadian Forces Cadet Instructor Cadre, an organization whose members hold full-time civilian jobs but spend hundreds of hours each year training young people in the Army, Navy, and Air Cadets to become tomorrow’s leaders. When he’s not managing his local cranberry winery, Capt. Bowman proudly wears the uniform of an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As an officer and recently as a Commanding Officer of 861 Silver Squadron, Capt. Bowman has dedicated his evenings and weekends for the last 25-plus years to helping young Canadians develop a better sense of citizenship and service to their country and community.
Gerri Charles: Charles is the eldest daughter of six of Dutch dairy farmers, Tommy and Fay Vanderveen. Married to Doug for nearly 24 years, they have three children and four grandchildren. Born and raised in Abbotsford, Charles’ business, Champagne & Lace Bridal Centre, was established in 1986. As chairwoman of the Crystal Gala Foundation, president of the Abbotsford Executive Association, and board member Abbotsford Restorative Justice and the Abbotsford Heat Foundation, Charles has dedicated her time to serving her community. Her service also includes time on the Abbotsford Police Board, the Board of Retail BC, the Abbotsford Airshow Society, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association, and the Mayor’s Task Force on Crime Reduction. Charles truly lives her life by saying, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
Deirdre DeGagne: DeGagne has been a teacher in the Abbotsford School District for 26 years, and the founder and head coach of the Abbotsford Skipping Sensations for 21 years. The team has represented Abbotsford, B.C. and Canada at local, provincial, national and international competitions. In conjunction with Abbotsford Parks and Recreation, DeGagne volunteers her time to provide weekly jump rope camps for the community. DeGagne also founded and became the first president of the B.C. Rope Skipping Association and has served as an executive board member for 18 years. DeGagne has given her time to the boards of the Spina Bifida Association of B.C. and Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, and has served as manager of the Manning Park Ski Club.
Harry de Jong: De Jong has amassed a tremendous record of service to his community and province. In 1963, de Jong began his public service on the MSA Parks and Recreation Commission, then on the Abbotsford tourism and MSA health boards. De Jong was the mayor of the District of Matsqui for 10 years and Abbotsford’s MLA for eight years, including a term as Minister of Agriculture. In 1995, de Jong went on to become a member of the Abbotsford Agrifair board where he served as secretary, vice-president, president, and finally past-president before retiring last fall. In 2011, de Jong was selected as the community’s favourite volunteer and was instrumental in making the Agrifair the favourite community event.
Brian Doerksen: Brian Doerksen is a singer/songwriter and a co-pastor at a church called The Bridge that has met in Matsqui Village since 2006. For many years, Doerksen was part of Vineyard Church and Vineyard Music Group where he become one of North America’s most influential contemporary Christian worship songwriters. Recently, Doerksen has been producing worship music through Integrity’s Hosanna Music. Doerksen is married to Joyce and they have four daughters and two sons.
Dorothy Dyck: Dyck was the co-owner of Abbotsford Printing Inc. and executive board member of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association. By taking on many gratis promotional printing projects, Dyck and her company recognized the power of the printed word in raising awareness and funds for special causes. As her parents taught her to always think of others before oneself, Dyck devotes much time serving others, whether it’s with South Fraser Community Futures, the Crystal Gala Foundation, the Abbotsford Police Board or with the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. Dyck’s motto is “Service is the life blood of any organization. Everything flows from it and is nourished by it. Customer service is not a department; it’s an attitude.” When Dyck isn’t busy volunteering her time for the community, she loves to be surrounded by her husband, Bob, their children, and six grandchildren.
Nancy Dyck: Nancy Dyck served the Abbotsford community as a public school teacher, private music instructor, and the founding director of the Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir. Since its inception, the PMCC has represented both Abbotsford and Canada on numerous tours at home and abroad. Over a period of 25 years, Dyck touched the lives of thousands of children who have had the privilege of experiencing the finest in choral music. She has had the honour of interacting with various dignitaries and musicians while hosting many visiting choirs in our beautiful City in the Country. Dyck’s personal goal has been and continues to be the motto, “Teach the child and touch the future.” This motivation fills her heart with determination and joy. Dyck thanks her husband, family and many community friends for their inspiration, dedication and ongoing support.
Calvin Dyck: Calvin Dyck is renowned for his enthusiastic pursuit of playing and teaching music, producing concerts and adjudicating music competitions. Thirteen years ago, Dyck started Songs, Strings and Steps, a semi-annual performing arts extravaganza that features local talent. He is also the founder of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra. The classical violinist has recorded several fundraising CDs for Communitas, a local charity that provides care and services to people living with disabilities. In his eclectic career, Dyck has performed in concerts with Bryan Adams, Brian Doerksen, Anne Murray, the Vancouver Symphony, the Canadian Tenors and others. He has performed for the Olympics as well as for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Dyck enjoys living in Abbotsford with his wife Heather and their two children, Christine and Andrew.
George Ferguson: George Ferguson is Abbotsford’s longest serving mayor, having retired in 2008 after nearly four decades of service to his community. George became a councillor in 1969 and went on to become the mayor in 1971, in the District and then later the City of Abbotsford, until 2002, a period that included the amalgamation of Abbotsford and Matsqui in 1995. Ferguson returned to the mayor’s seat for one more term between 2005 and 2008. Ferguson was the driving force behind many of the projects and milestones in Abbotsford, including the establishment of the Abbotsford Police Department, Tradex, the purchase of the airport from the federal government, and the transition of Fraser Valley College into a fully recognized university. Ferguson was named Citizen of the Year in 2011 and received the Order of Abbotsford in 2012.
Dalip Singh Gill: Dailp Singh Gill is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Dasmesh Punjabi School. Gill started his career as a distinguished district education officer in Punjab, India, before immigrating to Canada in 1985. Having been described as a “dreamer and a man of vision,” Gill worked tirelessly with the community and appropriate regulatory bodies to help establish Dasmesh Punjabi School, the first school of its kind, in 1986. Gill served as its founding principal until his retirement in 2009. That same year, Gill was awarded a honourary Ph.D. by the University of the Fraser Valley for his outstanding contributions to Abbotsford and to education in Canada.
Manpreet Grewal: Manpreet Grewal is the manager of the vast network of multicultural and immigrant services at Abbotsford Community Services. Grewal has worked 23 years with Abbotsford Community Services, planning, developing, and managing the services and programs for inclusion and access of immigrants and making Abbotsford an even more welcoming community. Grewal’s work as a freelance journalist with the Vancouver Sun, The Province, and CBC Radio has also allowed her to highlight issues of immigrants and immigration in the Fraser Valley and beyond. She was chosen as one of the 100 most influential South Asians in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun and was selected as Abbotsford’s top 100 influential people for three consecutive years.
Lynne Harris: Lynne and her husband Jack moved to Abbotsford in 1976 from Winnipeg. Harris was first elected to the Abbotsford school board in 1987 and served as a trustee for 15 years. In 2002, Harris made the transition to Abbotsford city council to serve three terms before retiring in 2011. Through the years as an elected representative, she served on numerous boards and committees including: 24 years on the Parks, Recreation & Culture Commission, many years on boards associated with the numerous multi-sport games hosted in Abbotsford and nine years on the traffic safety advisory committee. Harris was the chairwoman of the Canada Day committee for the past seven years and will continue in this role through Canada Day 2013. Harris continues to spend as much time as possible with her family but cherishes her time serving the community.
Stan Hindmarsh: Stan Hindmarsh is an entrepreneur with a vision for developing values-based seniors’ communities. After hearing the concern of “where will I move next” from his elderly purchasers, Hindmarsh launched the assisted living model in Abbotsford with the 69-unit Hallmark assisted living residence, opened in 1999, and the 61-unit Hallmark on the Lake independent living residence, opened in 2003. Hindmarsh started Connexions, a humanitarian initiative that provides relief and support the poorest and neediest people of Guatemala. Connexions has given the residents of Hallmark and other Abbotsford residents an opportunity each year to give of their time and resources by visiting and reaching out to the people of Guatemala. Hindmarsh was also a founding member and chairman of the B.C. Senior Living Association.
Dave Holmberg: Holmberg is a successful businessman and generous giver of his time and resources to the community. In 1975, Holmberg, his wife Lee and their children moved to Abbotsford where they started the family business, Bobcat Country Inc. The Holmbergs have been involved with many organizations in support of community projects and activities. Holmberg’s volunteer efforts include Crime Stoppers board of directors, fundraising for the Matsqui Centennial, Ducks Unlimited, the first vice-president of the Abbotsford Airshow, Abbotsford Community Services, Abbotsford Hospice Society and Rotary Club, just to name a few.
Dave Kandal: Kandal has been a tireless worker on behalf of this community, as an athlete, a coach, a politician, and a public appointee. Kandal first put his name in Abbotsford sports history in 1949 when he led the Philip Sheffield School to its first, and only, appearance at the B.C. High School Basketball Tournament. Kandal started his professional career as a teacher at the newly-built Abbotsford Senior Secondary School, where he coached the basketball team to its first B.C. High School Tournament. Kandal also worked with Jane Swan to organize an elementary school basketball league. He served as a school trustee for five years, then as mayor of Matsqui from 1987-1995. As Mayor, Kandal was an active supporter of athletic events and the development of playing fields and facilities within the District of Matsqui. Kandal also served his community as chairman of the Abbotsford Airport Authority.
Lorna Keith: Lorna Keith has been a volunteer and gallery attendant at The Reach since October 2008. Since 1993, Keith has also been a member of the board of directors for The Valley Concert Society and its president for the past 14 years. During this time, Keith represented the society on the tourism committee of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. Keith has also been active in the Abbotsford Arts Council and volunteers at its events. An active member of Fraser Valley Stage Society since 1996, Keith has volunteered at Western Canada Games in 1995 and the B.C. Summer Games in 2004, and was nominated for the Mrytle Evertt Woman of the Year in 2006. Keith has been active in Trinity Memorial United Church since moving to Abbotsford in 1959.
Freddy Latham: Freddy Latham is the founder of the Abbotsford Children’s Theatre Company and has been its artistic director for the past 30 years. During this time, Latham directed and produced more than 70 productions for young audiences in the Abbotsford. Latham has donated her expertise to planning numerous community events, including the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1995 Western Canada Summer Games, 2002 Disability Games, 2004 BC Summer Games and 2008 Special Olympics. Latham serves on the Canada Day committee and as a community representative of the Parks, Recreation and Culture commission for the City of Abbotsford. As a retired educator, Latham believes the arts play an important part in our lives and continues to be an arts advocate in our community.
Dave Murray: Dave Murray is the director of the Abbotsford Community Services Food Bank. The Food Bank has over 6,000 people who use its various services. Every month, about 3,500 people in Abbotsford access the food programs. The Abbotsford Food Bank is unique in that it offers several programs that provides free resources for its clientele in the hope such clients will be better able to provide for their families. A good example of this is the free dental clinic that runs out of the food bank building, the only clinic of its kind to operate out of a food bank in Canada. Murray and his wife Wendy also do significant work in Romania by providing food and other resources to needy children there. They currently reside in Chilliwack, where they own a home décor store named Winks Home Garden and Gifts.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Mike Novakoski:
Sgt. Mike Novakowski developed and implemented several programs to engage youth, their parents, and the community, and challenge them to make positive choices in their lives. These campaigns included the use of personal stories and a series of posters (Operation Tarnish), videos and radio commercials (Operation Veritas), and school presentations to thousands of Abbotsford students from elementary (Operation Acorn), middle (Operation Impact II) and secondary (Operation Impact & Operation Vector). Novakowski developed anti-gang awareness campaigns that include speaking to thousands of parents (Operation Lodestar), using a seized Hummer as a rolling crime prevention billboard (Operation Reclamation) and messages on school buses (Project Prime). These programs received wide spread media coverage across B.C. and Canada.
George Peary (Note: Joint Recognition with Mike de Jong, MLA): George Peary came to Abbotsford in 1973 to work as the vice-principal of Abbotsford Senior Secondary. Peary worked as an administrator in the Abbotsford School District for 28 years, serving as principal of WJ Mouat, Abbotsford Junior, Yale and the Career Technical College. Peary became a District of Matsqui councillor in 1987 after serving on the Matsqui Police board. In 2005, he left city council to become a school trustee on the Abbotsford School Board. Peary returned to city hall as mayor from 2008 to 2011.
Dr. Darryl Plecas:
Darryl Plecas holds the RCMP University Research Chair in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the Fraser Valley where he has worked for 30 years (serving as chairman of the school for various terms over 14 of those years). Plecas is a recipient of UFV’s Teaching Excellence Award and, in 2003 he received an Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology Award at the Fourteenth International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. In 2006, Plecas was appointed to the board of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and, in 2009, to the board of the B.C. Crime Prevention Association. Plecas is the book review editor for Police Practice and Research: An International Journal and serves on the editorial board of Criminal Justice Research. In 2005, Plecas received the British Columbia Lieut.-Gov.’s Award for Public Safety and, in 2006, he received the Order of Abbotsford.
Chief Constable Bob Rich (Note: Joint Recognition with John van Dongen, MLA):
Bob Rich has been a police officer since 1980. He became the Chief Constable for the Abbotsford Police Department in July of 2008. Prior to joining the APD, Rich was with the Vancouver Police Department where he served as the deputy Chief Constable of the operations division, responsible for patrol, traffic, community policing and property crime investigations. The focus of his leadership is based on the idea that a police department, working in partnership with the community, can dramatically reduce crime and increase safety. Rich and his department recently had significant success in reducing violent crime in Abbotsford. Rich was invested as a Member of the Order of Merit for Police Forces in Canada.
Andy Sidhu: Andy Sidhu is the publisher of the bilingual (English and Punjabi) newspaper, Punjabi Patrika. The paper circulates throughout the lower Fraser Valley and is responsible for organizing fundraisers for the Abbotsford Cancer Unit and the Abbotsford Police Department. Sidhu and his wife came to Canada from Malaysia and settled in Abbotsford in 1974. He served as the assistant manager of Agricultural Employment Services from 1976 to 1995. Sidhu serves his community on multiple boards, including the Malaysia Singapore Sikh Association, Ferndale Prison Citizen Action Committee, Abbotsford Community Services, the UFV Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, and Crime Stoppers.
Les Talvio is the executive director, co-founder and driving force behind Cyrus Centre Ministries. Cyrus Centre is an inner city mission providing a youth shelter and resource centre for at-risk youth. Talvio has worked with at-risk youth and homeless individuals for over 20 years, providing direct service, advocacy, staff training, program development and community awareness. Talvio is a member of the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network, high risk youth committee, City of Refuge, extreme weather shelter committee, and other initiatives surrounding at-risk youth and the homelessness. Talvio and his wife Kristin have been married for 30 years; they have three children and three grandchildren.
Pieter Vanderpol’s life has been defined by living out the purpose and values instilled in him by his parents and passing these on to his children. At age 15, Vanderpol left school to help his father establish the family business. Vanderpol continued to build on his family values as he took the business into new directions and now he is watching and mentoring his sons. Vanderpol has served the food industry well, playing an active part in many trade organizations, and continues to serve on the B.C. Food Processors Council. Vanderpol has been passionate about education, donating generously and investing many hours of his time on various boards to support independent education. His greatest satisfaction is his large family who are continuing to live out the values, principles and passion that have guided him in his business and community life.
John Vissers: Vissers has built a successful construction-related business while also engaging in his community, bringing both challenges and satisfaction. Vissers volunteers with several organizations, including Abbotsford’s environmental advisory committee, the Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, the Fraser Valley Conservancy, the Rail for the Valley lobby group, the Council of Canadians, the Pipe-Up Action Group, Zero Waste BC, Resilient Communities Canada, Straiton Community Club, Mission Folk Music Festival Society and the Envision Twilight Concert Series.
Milt Walker is the executive director of the Kinghaven Peardonville House Society. The society operates Abbotsford’s only intensive residential addiction treatment centre for men, women and children, serving a total of 550 clients each year. Walker’s community involvement includes being the first and current chairman of The Reach Gallery Museum and the seniors’ representative to the Parks, Recreation and Culture commission. He is a proud member of the Abbotsford Rotary Club, the past president of the Abbotsford 2004 B.C. Summer Games and vice-president of the Abbotsford 2002 B.C. Disability Games. Walker hopes to continue doing what he truly loves, being involved and giving back, and making a small difference in the community that has been so good to him. Walker wishes to recognize his wife, Rita, for her continued support.
Christine Wiebe (Note: Joint Recognition with John van Dongen, MLA):
Christine Wiebe is the proprietor of Courage and Class, which produces garments made with the official City of Abbotsford tartan. Wiebe’s business career began with her time as a Vancouver Sun newspaper carrier all the way to the insurance and investment sector. Wiebe believes volunteerism offers many opportunities. Her volunteer experience includes Air Cadets, Heritage BC, Heritage Canada, Swiss Society, MSA Museum, Abbotsford International Airshow, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Abbotsford Spirit of BC and Volunteer Abbotsford. Whether it was her business endeavours or her volunteer experiences, Wiebe has thoroughly enjoyed them all.
Menno Froese was born and raised in Abbotsford and has served this community as a school trustee, as a municipal councillor, as a political campaign manager for MP Ed Fast, and in various community organizations, such as the board of health, the Citizens Advisory Committee to Matsqui Institution, the Fraser Valley Library board, his church and other organizations. Froese is the past president of the A.L.S. Society of B.C. and with his wife, Phyllis, was a founding member of the annual Abbotsford Walk for ALS held at Mill Lake Park every June to raise funds for research and to support people living with ALS. Froese and his wife reside in Abbotsford and have two adult children with three grandchildren. They are active supporters of positive community initiatives to build a stronger, safer, better Abbotsford.