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When it comes to awards, small towns need to recognize their own

A Medal of Good Citizenship recipient encourages people to nominate those who go above and beyond
Recent Medal of Good Citizenship recipient Vivian Edwards (third from l) with Esther Lang (second from r), who nominated her for the award and was a recipient in 2021, and (from l) Lions Jackie Berkey, Darlene Daily, Gordon Daily, and Sue Peters. (Photo credit: Submitted)

There was an outpouring of well-earned congratulations recently for longtime Ashcroft resident Vivian Edwards, when the province announced that she was one of just 21 British Columbians awarded the Medal of Good Citizenship for 2023.

Edwards became the fourth person from the area to be honoured thusly by the province, following Cache Creek’s Clayton Cassidy (2016), Esther Lang of Ashcroft (2021), and Deb Arnott of 16 Mile (2022). Considering that most of the Medal of Good Citizenship recipients are from large communities, it’s an admirable showing for our region, but Lang wants people to know that it doesn’t happen by accident.

Last year, Lang nominated Edwards for the award, and she says that a nomination from someone who knows the person in question is what’s needed to ensure that dedicated volunteers who go above and beyond — particularly in rural areas — come to the attention of awards bodies, whether it’s the Province of B.C., the BC Achievement Community Awards, or local “Citizens of the Year” committees.

“There are all sorts of people out there who volunteer very quietly and conscientiously and we don’t hear about them,” says Lang. “It takes someone to nominate them, someone who has knowledge of their activities. The same people over and over get the accolades, but there are all sorts of people who do all sorts of things. We don’t know a lot of the volunteers in our own community.”

Lang looked at the 21 Medal of Good Citizenship recipients for 2023 and notes that 17 of them came from larger areas, with only four coming from towns of a similar size to, or even smaller than, Ashcroft.

“One of them came from Elko, which has a population of 163,” she says. “That is significant, as there are people all over in small areas that don’t have the volunteer pool you do in bigger areas. If you need a volunteer you can always find someone who knows someone who knows someone in Vancouver. You don’t have that pool in small towns.

“Cities need to know we’re out there and that we do support our own. We need small towns to recognize their own. It builds recognition for communities, and puts us on the map as to where we are, what we do, and how important our town is to us.”

Ask any volunteer why they do what they do, and none of them will say that they do it for recognition. Lang, however, says that that recognition is important.

“It lets others know what people do. A lot of people are hesitant to nominate others, but I’d encourage people, when these opportunities come around, to nominate folks, especially youth. They’re the next generation of volunteers.”

She adds that youth volunteers do what they do in addition to everything else going on in their lives. “They have school and sports and growing-up things. There are ways we, as older volunteers, can encourage them. And we have a whole group of people between 30 and 50 who aren’t volunteers, and we don’t know how to encourage them to get involved.”

Lang acknowledges that the nomination process can be daunting for some people.

“One of the problems is that it’s computer-generated, so people without access to computers might not want to go that route. One solution is to get a group of people together. You can combine the work and figure out the computer part. There are online sources that tell you how to write a good nomination letter.”

She adds that the committee responsible for reviewing applications is looking for nominees who go over and above what they do for their job: what they’re being nominated for shouldn’t be work-related.

“As I look around I see we have a number of people who wear many hats in volunteerism. We say ‘Let so-and-so do it’ and they step up to the plate. Those people often do it behind the scenes and probably don’t want the recognition for it, but the public needs to know who we have doing these kinds of things.

“In the last few years we’ve had four people recognized [for the Medal of Good Citizenship] from our area, and that needs to continue as it will put us on the map. And there are lots of people out there who have come into our community; even just recognizing them within the community might encourage others.”

Nominations are currently being accepted for B.C.’s Medal of Good Citizenship, which recognizes acts of selflessness and generosity, and contributions to the betterment of someone’s local community. Nominations of young people between 15 and 25, and posthumous nominations, are welcome.

Nominations must reach the Honours and Awards Secretariat by Friday, April 5, 2024 to be considered this year. They may be submitted electronically on the honours webpage. To submit a nomination for the Medal of Good Citizenship, visit

Barbara Roden

About the Author: Barbara Roden

I joined Black Press in 2012 working the Circulation desk of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal and edited the paper during the summers until February 2016.
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