Thirty worthy residents receive Diamond Jubilee Medal from MP Bruce Hyer

Betty Kennedy with Bruce Hyer
Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient Betty Kennedy with MP Bruce Hyer

Diamond Jubilee MedalTHUNDER BAY – It was an exciting day for a group of deserving residents of Northwestern Ontario. Local residents who have made outstanding contributions to community and country were the centre of attention at a special awards ceremony hosted by Independent MP Bruce Hyer.

Thirty individuals were honoured Friday at a special luncheon and ceremony where they received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. 

“It is a great honour for me to recognize many of our incredible local heroes today, many of whom often go unrecognized,” said Hyer. “Those of you receiving medals this afternoon know you can’t fix all the problems we face, and can’t repair the entire world.  But you give us hope that another, better world is possible. On behalf of your fellow residents of Northwestern Ontario – we thank you.”

Hyer made a special effort with the selection of who received the awards. The people who were awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medals were choosen by a panel of advisors. “They are exceptional people who come from all walks of life and various towns in the riding,” commented Hyer.

The MP shared how one of the recipents, Willa Jones, who passed away a few days ago was given her medal at a special service at her church.

 “Our commitment to Canada is strengthened when we collectively pay homage to those who distinguish themselves by virtue of their talents, their generosity, and their service to their community and to our country,” Hyer added. “We are here today to recognize a group of outstanding citizens for their contributions.” 

Jubilee award winners included long-time poverty advocates, advocates for workplace safety, children’s support services, food security, Aboriginal health and well-being, among others.

Here is a little indepth information on one of the recipents of today’s Diamond Jubilee Medal presentation:

Betty Kennedy with Bruce Hyer
Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient Betty Kennedy with MP Bruce Hyer

The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) Executive Director, Betty Kennedy, was awareded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award.  The Diamond Jubilee Medal was created in honour of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne. The medal recognizes Canadians from all walks of life who have made significant contributions to Canada or whose achievements abroad have brought credit to Canada. Betty Kennedy is one of those Canadians.

As ONWA’s Executive Director, Kennedy fosters a deep sense of responsibility to her community and is selfless in her work. Throughout the years, she has played a vital role in bringing issues of social justice to the forefront.  She is known for her ongoing advocacy surrounding poverty, Aboriginal health, Aboriginal child welfare and Aboriginal women. Her passion about making a change at a community and provincial level has been evident in her dedication and leadership in improving the lives of Aboriginal women.

“Traditional Indigenous leadership encompasses giving and humility and ONWA is fortunate to have an Executive Director who embodies what true leadership is about,” explains Dr. Dawn Harvard, President, ONWA Board of Directors.  “ONWA – as a unified voice for equity, equality and justice for Aborginal women through cultural restoration within and across Nations – has made tremendous strides under Betty’s direction. We are proud of her accomplishments and know that under her continued leadership ONWA’s voice will be strengthened and we will continue to make positive changes for Aboriginal women and their families across Ontario.”

Here all all of the worthy recipients of the Diamond Jubilee Medal:

Awarded to residents of Thunder Bay-Superior North who have made outstanding contributions to community and country.



John Ahl
Over the years, many organizations wisely recognized John’s unsurpassed leadership qualities. He has demonstrated his expertise as a Woodlands Foreman and Administrator.  His  voluntary involvement with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and  the Nipigon Royal Canadian Legion are well known and appreciated by the community. 

Lorne Allard
With Lorne at the helm, the job gets done.  Lorne has a proven track record of forming partnerships and linking people with common goals, building on existing strengths. Be it organizing a little league team or a minor hockey team, Lorne was there ensuring each person’s full potential was utilized.

Pyteke Blaauw
Pyteke has been a driving force in social justice and education programs.  With at least 25 years of volunteer service, her generosity is unlimited.  Pyteke envisions a world where people everywhere are granted human rights, respect and dignity.  Pyteke sees a need and responds, with no hesitation or expectation of reward.

Larry Brigham
Larry is a visionary who tirelessly spearheaded “the impossible dream” with energy, enthusiasm and compassion – a dream that came true under his watch – the Regional Food Distribution Association.  He rallied an amazing team of volunteers with the objective that “no one goes hungry in our midst.”

Captain Gordon Bucknell
Captain Bucknell has contributed 50 years of dedicated service with the Army Cadet Movement of Canada.  His exemplary and long service record is one of leadership at its finest.  Under his tutelage and direction, a large number of young people have thrived and excelled from rigorous self-development.

George Burton Brown
A local historian and entrepreneur, having just celebrated his 103rd birthday in September, Burt Brown is a published author who has donated many of his penned works to the City of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Museum. Burt makes sure that our stories are remembered.

Dr. James T. Colquhoun
Dr. Colquhoun is held in high regard for the years of voluntary public service and directorship positions he has held for decades for the betterment of others; this is over and above his 60 years as a practicing physician in our community.

James Wm. Forbes
James has displayed a compassionate willingness to help others.  Under his tutelage, many young people have realized their full potential.  More recently, he used his own health challenges to raise public awareness of Parkinson’s Disease.  Education, advocacy and compassion are the pillars upon which James bases his many voluntary endeavours.

Robert Gaunt
Born with a visual impairment, Robert let nothing stop him from achieving his goals.  He went on to win the 1992 Gold Medal for Canada World Powerlifting Championships, among other athletic accomplishments. His incredible volunteer positions to help those living with disabilities, inspires confidence and great possibilities.


Timothy Groulx
Years of voluntary service with community organizations as a reservist, a leader and an historian mark the life of Timothy Groulx.  His promotion of Canadian values is notable.  His willingness to share his knowledge, advice and expertise in a number of areas has made him a veritable storehouse of local knowledge.

Captain Anthony Iwanyszyn
Years of military service launched Captain Iwanyszyn into various volunteer leadership positions that saw him provide exemplary guidance to young people.  He has mentored, inspired and engaged the youth in Thunder Bay.

Willa Jones
A woman who dared to imagine a better world, Willa was a tireless champion for refugees and new immigrants to Canada.  She opened her home and her heart and worked in close partnership with existing agencies to coordinate resettlement. She saw no task as too big or too small.  She helped to reunite families and eased the burdens of many.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kennedy
Betty’s inspiring leadership and strong sense of responsibility, has ensured that the unique cultural perspectives of Aboriginal People are represented.  She is a fierce and compassionate advocate for social justice, the elimination of poverty, mental health, Aboriginal child welfare and Aboriginal women.

Roy Lamore
Roy has dedicated 66 years to the Royal Canadian Branch 5 Legion.   He has officiated, refereed, coached little league and minor sports and has been named Sportsman of the Year.  He has been an exceptional role model and advocate for our youth and our veterans.

Chief of Police, J.P. Levesque
Chief J.P. Levesque was a key member of an important community partnership of the 2002-2008 Diversity in Policing Project that looked at long term solutions for racist free policing and best practices and policies.  A role model for new police officers, he has instructed new recruits.  J.P. has raised the bar for excellence, professionalism and volunteerism.

William “Bill” Locker
It has been noted that Bill makes “volunteering a way of life, embracing his community as an extension of his family.”  Bill is known in his home town (Nipigon) as a true man of service.  Community projects blossom under his attentive direction.

Steve Mantis
A champion for injured workers, many of whom face challenges of depression, chronic unemployment and poverty, Steve has worked hard for years to build a “comprehensive, fair system for all workers injured on the job.”  His voluntary service on Boards and Committees has been instrumental to furthering the cause for workers and workplace safety across Ontario.

Ross Mitchell
Ross, during his time as Chief Administrative Officer for the municipality of Marathon, confronted a time of upheaval when the population grew in a few short years from 2,000 to 6,000.  His vision, tenacity and team leadership witnessed a successful transition for the town of Marathon.

John Marino
Business owner John Marino is also the Chief of the Geraldton Volunteer Fire Department.  John and his crew respond at every gathering, power outage and evacuation, ensuring welcome, safety and comfort for visitors and locals alike. His dedication, compassion and generosity go beyond the regular call of duty.


Alice Neudorf
An advocate for those who need that extra help, Alice lends a hand.  She has a knack for fundraising for various worthy causes. She has spent much of her life assisting individuals who live with developmental challenges.  Alice’s cheerful unassuming manner comes with a committed sense of social responsibility.


Kal Pristanski

Holding numerous administrative and leadership positions in the areas of Red Rock, Nipigon, Dorion and Hurkett,  Kal’s volunteer work has been pivotal to the preservation and enhanced quality of  the natural environment enjoyed by residents of the entire region.  


Murray Roberts

As guidance councilor at Gron Morgan Memorial High School, Murray’s influence was far-reaching and effective. He helped many young people turn their lives around.  He liaised between students, parents and sometimes police.  He represented students in court situations.  He recognized the potential in each and every person and made himself available anytime – day or night.


Captain George Romick

Captain Romick has served with distinction in the Canadian Forces rising to rank of Captain with the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.  A dedicated community volunteer, Captain Romick recognizes the value of sports and organized activities in the healthy development of young people.


Dr. S. Burton Sellick

An educator and scholar, Dr. Sellick has shared his academic expertise in numerous voluntary endeavours.  He has spearheaded various initiatives in health care and the Arts.  Dr. Sellick has received a number of awards over the years for exceptional achievement.


Michael Sobota 

Proactive education and advocacy for those living with HIV/AIDS has flourished under Michael’s leadership and direction.  Dedicated to bettering the community, the Arts and Theatre has benefitted substantially under his creative involvement.


John Trevisanutto

John’s philanthropic endeavours are well known in Thunder Bay.  His creative and energetic enthusiasm has sparked many a successful fundraising drive.  More recently, John spearheaded the building campaign for Our Kids Count and liaised with community partners, increasing public awareness, creatively utilizing all the tools available, including his own business contacts.


Frances Wesley

Frances quietly, fiercely and persuasively represents the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal people who live in an urban setting.  She is not afraid to confront challenges head-on.  She was instrumental in helping to develop the City’s Aboriginal Strategy and ensured that the City of Thunder Bay became a true partner in the work of the Aboriginal community.


George Boyd Whitefield

With 37 years with St. John’s Ambulance, George has been described as an individual with a passion to give the best there is to give, in every situation.  George has been a methodical historian, patiently unearthing a catalogue of facts for St. John’s Ambulance and the Thunder Bay Museum.  His years of service in the Military led to commendations and medals.



Lillian Wolter

Lillian has been called our “silent unsung hero.”  Her flair for gracious hospitality is legendary.  Many visitors to the community of Nipigon are welcomed by Lillian.  She has shared her wonderful musical talents at various celebrations, as a pianist.  She has volunteered for charitable organizations at local and international levels.


Sally Palmer Woods

To meet a deep and serious need, Sally stepped up and undertook a leadership position, as President of the Board of the Elizabeth Fry Society. Sally has fiercely and tirelessly worked to bridge the gaps in service to make a difference in the lives of marginalized, victimized, criminalized and imprisoned women. 

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