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Paul Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert C. McLeod, left, presents Paula Guy, vice-chairperson of Inuvik's Children First Society, with the group award; Melinda Gillis, chair of the Children First Society; Yellowknife's Alannis McKee, with the youth award; and Aklavik's George Koe Jr., with the individual award. Yellowknife's Ron Ogilvie, winner of the elder award, was not present for the May 10 ceremony in Hay River. - Bickford/NNSL photo

Volunteers honoured at conference
GNWT announces new volunteer recognition program

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 20, 2013

Hay River Mayor Andrew Cassidy says the hard part of honouring volunteers is getting them to show up for awards ceremonies because they don't do what they do for personal recognition.

But that didn't stop the GNWT from presenting its Outstanding Volunteer Awards for 2013 during a May 10 ceremony in Hay River.

The winners are Yellowknife's Alannis McKee in the youth category, Inuvik's Children First Society in the group category, Aklavik's George Koe Jr. in the individual category and Yellowknife's Ron Ogilvie in the elder category.

The presentations were made during the annual general meeting of the NWT Association of Communities.

Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Minister Robert C. McLeod said the presentation of the awards is one of the highlights of the conference by the NWT Association of Communities which ran from May 9 to 12. McLeod also announced a new volunteer recognition program.

"This is a program where $1,000 will be made available to the communities who want to put on an event to recognize the contribution of volunteers," he said.

"Volunteers are a real special group of people."

McKee, the youth category winner, was recognized for her volunteer efforts with a number of organizations, including with the NWT Disabilities Council, Special Olympics NWT and an inclusion group at her school for people with intellectual disabilities.

The 16-year-old, who attends St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife, is also the founder and president of the Best Buddies chapter in the North, a friendship program for youth with intellectual disabilities; helps preserve aboriginal culture, language and traditions; is a cultural sports facilitator with the Get Active NWT program; and is a traditional games demonstrator with the NWT Youth Ambassador program.

The Children First Society was represented by chair Melinda Gillis and vice-chairperson Paula Guy, who were in Hay River to pick up the award in the group category.

The society's volunteers have worked for more than a decade to establish a permanent childcare and child development centre in Inuvik. The society as raised $6.5 million through events and funding donations.

"It's a lot of effort by many volunteers over the course of those years, so I think we're really honoured to accept it on behalf of all of the volunteers over 10 years," said Gillis.

Guy said the society is proud and excited to win the award.

"We obviously didn't get into this hoping for an award," she said. "The reward for us was the project and the centre. On Aug. 12, the centre will be opening and that is going to be one exciting day for us."

In the individual category, Koe was praised for helping others in Aklavik by shovelling snow from the steps of houses and boardwalks, playing musical instruments at his church and assisting during church events, and helping out at the health centre.

Koe said he was very happy to win the award.

In the elder category, Ogilvie was praised for his many years as an active volunteer, including with the Yellowknife Seniors' Society, the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation and other groups.

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