By Seth DuChene
Some of the best examples of community spirit were recognized with a special ceremony hosted by Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Mike Bossio in Napanee on Monday night.
Twenty individuals from around the riding were honoured with a special award held in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year.
“Every member of parliament in the country has received 20 special Canada 150 pins made from the copper of the roof of the Parliament of Canada,” Bossio told those in attendance. “These pins can been awarded by each member of parliament in whatever way they choose. It was very important to me that this was done in a non-partisan way. I wanted to be completely out of this process and I wanted staff to be completely out of this process. I wanted to be sure that 20 people were going to be picked by the people of my riding.”
Once the award-winners were announced, Bossio admitted he was happy to have kept that process at arm’s length.
“I’m so glad that I did not have to make that decision. Every single person in this room has given so much to their communities that, to have them all here together tonight, it’s such an incredible honour. You all look around the room and you see yourselves. As you look at one another, you see yourselves — people who have so much passion, so much desire, have that overwhelming desire to serve their communities, the environment and so many other issues in our communities,” he said.
“I know that there is no other community like this, so many individuals willing to give of their time and their energy to benefit their fellow citizens,” Bossio continued.
Among those awarded from the Napanee area included:
• Bath’s Jessica Boomhower, who even after a devastating stroke continues to participate in a number of local charitable causes
• Napanee’s Cortwright Christian, who was the founder of the Napanee Multicultural Festival and supporter of L&A Seniors Outreach Services and Morningstar Mission
• Amherst Island’s Janet Scott, who has been an environmental steward on the island and a supporter of other community projects
• Napanee’s Kevin Alkenbrack, who manages Morningstar Mission and works with the Napanee Anti-Poverty Coalition
• Napanee’s Amy Mack, who helped found the local chapter of 100 Women Who Care and supports local youth sports
• Enterprise’s Don Fenwick, who has supported his community through work with the local volunteer fire department and organizing a number of community fundraisers
• Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Chief R. Donald Maracle, who has served as a community leader for several years and who has championed environmental causes and worked to promote the Mohawk language
• Tyendinaga Township’s Margaret Walsh, a former reeve of the township who was instrumental in the campaign against the Richmond Landfill expansion and who led the revitalization of the former Lonsdale schoolhouse
• Napanee’s Maria Stebelsky, who works with a number of local charitable organizations, including At Home in L&A, and with youth at-risk
• Plainfield’s Rick Phillips, who currently serves as the reeve of Tyendinaga Township and who has been a longtime supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society as well as area food banks.
Those awarded were picked by an independent panel of five judges: MaryLou Sonneveld from Napanee, Jarod Preston from Tweed, Suzanne Brant from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Patrick Johnson from Lonsdale and John Schram from Amherst Island. A total of 68 individuals were nominated from across the riding.
Under the broad umbrella of ‘service to country and community’, the nominations were judged in a wide-ranging number of areas, including entrepreneurialism, environmental stewardship, heroism, leadership, service, work toward combatting poverty, work toward ending discrimination and promoting equality, work toward Indigenous reconciliation and work toward promoting rural community sustainability.