ALERT BAY—Four people who have provided exemplary service in the North Island were honoured with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals last week, including two in Alert Bay. Wa Wasden and Alexandra Morton received their medals at a ceremonies at the U’Mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay Thursday.
MLA Claire Trevena, along with MLAs and MPs across the country, was invited to recognize the hard work of people who volunteer their time to make Canada a better place. MLAs were tasked with selecting just four people per constituency, a challenge in rural communities where volunteerism is a key social driver. Trevena appointed a committee to recommend her appointments and she’s pleased with their choices, which honour the hard work of people who champion the causes of First Nations arts, culture and social welfare, the environment and the arts.
Wa Wasden Jr. has made it his life’s work and passion to train as an artist and a traditional singer to keep his Kwakwaka’wakw culture alive, and to pass it on to younger generations. He excelled at visual art as a youth and in his late teens he trained as a song keeper, composer and historian under Tom Willie (“MacKenzie”) and his wife Elsie. He shares the wealth of those teachings with youth in the Gwa’wina Dancers Cultural Society in Alert Bay.
Alexandra Morton’s name has become a household word for many people on the B.C. coast, for her unrelenting commitment to the wild salmon stocks. As a young marine biologist, Morton moved to the Broughton Archipelago to study orcas. Over time she became concerned with the loss of their principle food, wild salmon, and has since devoted her life to finding the causes. Her energy and leadership, securing funds for studies and bringing thousands of people out to demonstrate their shared concerns, has brought the issue to the forefront.
Jacquie Gordon and Chief Robert Joseph were also presented medals by Trevena at a ceremony in Campbell River Dec. 3.