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Opinion: Such a great honour, so many deserving recipients, so many more are worthy

Fifty-five people were honoured on Thursday, but in Estevan, you could have saluted so many more.
Thursday night 55 Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals were presented to Estevan constituency residents and community leaders.

There are a lot of people in the Estevan area worthy of a prestigious recognition. And I can’t imagine trying to narrow down a list of potential recipients.

Last week 55 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medals were handed out during a celebration at the Estevan Elks Lodge. I was one of those to receive a medal.

It was an incredible honour for which I’m grateful, but I’m still stunned that I was selected.

On the citation, and during the ceremony, it was noted that I was being recognized for my contributions and excellent work in journalism. I’d like to think that after 22-plus years in the city, I’ve made a good contribution or two.

I was glad that I wasn’t the only journalist being recognized. Brian Zinchuk, who has made contributions to covering the energy sector for Pipeline News, the Mercury and now Pipeline Online, was also saluted. He knows more about the province’s energy sector than any other reporter or editor in the province.

And Norm Park was also recognized. Brian’s been in the media for about 25 years. I’ve been in the game for 22 years. And Norm has more experience than the two of us combined. He was reporting before Brian and I were born. He made a lot of outstanding contributions to journalism, and to the community through his chosen craft, during his career. 

But this event obviously wasn’t just about reporters. There were more than 50 other deserving people recognized. Estevan MLA Lori Carr, the City of Estevan and the Estevan Police Service each selected recipients that night. 

Every person who received an award deserved it. Many of them are people who I’ve known, worked with and admired almost from the moment I arrived in Estevan in September 2000. Some of them are friends, a few of them are close friends.

Others are people that I’ve known for less than 22 years, but I still hold in the highest regard. And a few of them were from out of town, so I didn’t really know them.

They come from all walks of life. They’re all ages. A lot of them are older people who have been retired for a number of years, but they’re still finding ways to contribute to the community. Volunteer time, philanthropy, public service, business leadership, law enforcement, arts, healthcare, military and sports are just some of the reasons that these people were honoured.

And many of the honourees made considerable contributions in several areas.

At the same time, you think about those who didn’t receive a medal, but certainly deserved one. I won’t name names. Partly because I don’t want to leave anyone out. And partly because there’s only so much space available in this column, and I don’t want to omit anyone. For each category listed, there are a number of people in the community who have made considerable contributions who didn’t receive a medal.

When you receive an award like this, you feel the conflicting emotions of pride and humility. Pride that you were recognized. Pride in the accomplishments that you have had. As for humility, it grows when you reflect on the efforts of the other recipients, and all that they have done for the community you love. Yet someone thought enough of you to submit your name for the recognition.

And you feel humility when you consider the many other people who make such a big difference.

And that’s why feelings of unworthiness are natural. People have told me they were happy for me and that I deserved it, but I know others have been a bigger part of the community than me and have been here longer than me. 

The ceremony itself was a classy and dignified event. The recipients were well dressed. They understood the significance of what they were receiving.

Regardless of what you think of the British monarchy, you can’t deny how Queen Elizabeth II conducted herself as monarch during her 70 years on the throne. She was everything you should expect from someone in that role: classy, dignified and a brilliant representative in the public eye. By all accounts, she was the same when the cameras were off.

The ceremony on Thursday night was a fitting tribute to her.

Prior to her death in September, the Queen had authorized the presentation of these medals. She died before many of them had been presented, and there was speculation about whether the remaining presentations would occur.

I’ll admit I sound biased when I say I’m glad they did. But there are so many deserving people who have earned this recognition, and I’m glad to see the presentations went ahead.