FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The 10th Annual Fort St. John Community Awards were a night to remember on Thursday.
The Lido Theatre was filled to capacity to honour citizens in the Energetic City that go above and beyond for the service of others and the community.
The winners were selected after nominations were sent to the City. A four member panel then used a rubric style system to score candidates individually. The scores are then averaged and then they come up with the winner.
Taylor DeVos, which spearheaded 1 Kid Making a Difference among many other notable achievements gave the first speech of the evening, reminding everyone that no matter how small, they can always make a difference.
“I’ve got to say, Fort St. John is like no other City I have lived in. I used to live in a small town in Saskatchewan of 850 people and everyone knew who I was and who my parents were.”
She admitted that when she first arrived in Fort St. John, she was worried about how big the city actually was but it turned out to actually be quite similar to her previous home in Saskatchewan.
“Not everyone knew who I was or who my parents were but everyone looks out for each other and helps when needed and that is what the community is all about.”
She also raised $15,000 and helped fund a school in Haiti. Taylor recently took a trip to see the school she helped build. After a video played of Taylor’s accomplishments, she received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
“To everyone out there: if someone comes to you with an idea, no matter their age, encourage them. If you have a dream, follow it. You can and will make a difference.”
The first award of the evening was the Youth Award which went to Mustafa Faisal.
“First of all, I would like to say thank you for the award and I’m going to continue to do more for my community.”
The Humanitarian Award was next to presented and the winner was Faisal Rashid, Mustafa’s father.
“I’m proud and at the same time, I feel guilty with father and son taking all the awards, sorry about that.”
All jokes aside, Rashid praised Taylor Devos for her hard work and achievements at such a young age. He also gave admiration to residents and the City of Fort St. John.
The Recreation Award was the third award to be announced. The winner of this award was Bo Hedges. While he couldn’t be in attendance, his father said a few words on his behalf and his mother accepted the award.
“This is a pleasure for me to get up and speak for Bo because Bo does a very good job of speaking.”
The next speaker was former Fort St. John resident and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Mark Hartigan. He also played hockey with the Fort St. John Huskies back in the day. When a photo appeared of him after winning the Stanley Cup with the Anahiem Ducks in 2007, Hartigan shared a heartbreaking memory.
“I lost my mom during those playoffs. It is actually 10 years to the day, today.”
His daughter was also born that year and it was understandably a very emotional year for Hartigan. He then presented Councillor Bruce Christensen and his former coach with a photo of him from a Stanley Cup victory.
The next award to be presented was the Cultural Award. The winner was Russell Eggleston.
“Like everybody in this room knows, there is hundreds and hundreds of incredibly hard working people in all areas of the community and it is those people, behind the scenes that make the work that I do fun.”
Before the Mayor’s Citizen of the Year Award, there was the The Literacy Award. The winner for 2017 was Morgan Churchill. While she could not be at the gala on Thursday night, her husband accepted on her behalf.
Then there was the last award which was presented by Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman.
“For the past several years, I have had the privilege to select the Mayor’s Citizen of the Year Award and I can tell you that I have 200 scholarships that I have had to weed out down to about 10. You should have seen my coffee table this year.
There were things I knew about you guys that weren’t included in the applications. This was a tough job, so tough that I decided to take each and every one of you plus a few more and nominate you for a national award that is being recognized for Canadians with this being our 150th birthday. I had to do something because in my heart, you are all runners up.”
The award ended up going to Cindy Dettling. Many know Dettling has devoted much of her time to make sure kids are kept safe in school zones but mainly focuses on cars not stopping when a school bus has their lights flashing. Dettling’s work paid off as fines for breaking that law were increased by the B.C. government.
Dettling thanked the community for all the support she has received.
“Nobody usually ever asks me to speak, people usually avoid me so thank you very much. I have to say again, thank you to all the volunteers here. I am truly humbled to be in your presence.
I couldn’t have done this without hundreds of people behind me as well. Everybody jumped forward like Mayor Ackerman said and helped out whenever they were asked. The City was one of my strongest advocates.”