What do 300 people and one medal featuring the dogwood flower have in common?
They are all connected to the prestigious Order of British Columbia honour. Now, in its 21st year, it is time to once again to ask British Columbians across the province to consider who is worthy this year to join the OBC honours list.
People in communities across the province are being encouraged to nominate and help shine the spotlight on people in British Columbia for consideration to wear the prestigious Order's stylized dogwood medal.
"The Order of British Columbia is the province's most prestigious accolade and is an official part of the Canadian Honours system," said Steven Point, Lieutenant-Governor and Chancellor of the Order. "It avails us the opportunity to publicly recognize the good works of those in our communities who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make all our lives better.
People are encouraged to put forward names of persons outstanding in their community, who excel in a particular profession or who go above and beyond, demonstrating positive role models of caring and leadership.
In its 20 year history the Order of B.C. has honoured people from many diverse parts of British Columbia life including: artists, scientists, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, community workers, athletes, and many more.
Barbara Ward-Burkitt, M.Ed. of Prince George is one of those worthy and special British Columbians. A 2010 honouree, Ms Ward-Burkitt never thought she would ever be chosen for such a distinguished honour.
She was present with the other 14 honourees at last year's OBC ceremony at Government House, shaking hands with the Lt.-Gov. Point under the gleaming chandeliers. She shared a stage with such honourees as John Furlong of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee and noted B.C. AIDS clinician and researcher Dr. Julio Montaner.
"I looked at my fellow honourees with a sense that British Columbia is a place where we all live, but it is our people and their efforts that make this province what it is today," said Ward Burkitt.
Also known by her traditional Cree name, Wahiyo Cawapata Scoo (Far Seeing Woman), she embodies the perfect balance between healer and warrior by making personal sacrifices for the benefit of others. Her lifetime of teaching, sharing, helping and caring is an especially deserving one for the Order of B.C.
Possessing a deep commitment to and belief in the empowerment of Aboriginal people, Ward-Burkitt has worked for more than 40 years within the Aboriginal Friendship Centre movement in British Columbia, advancing many issues that impact Aboriginal families. Also a committed community volunteer, Ward- Burkitt's personal philosophy and strong work ethic help her to advocate for individual and community opportunities for urban Aboriginal peoples.
Ms. Ward-Burkitt has established many new programs, most recently T'se Koo Huba Yoh, a 30 unit Aboriginal women's housing program and Friendship Lodge in Prince George. Her peers have been impressed with her engagement style with the community which have led to mutual learning experiences and helped mitigate issues through respect, listening and consultation. When not in the office or at meetings, she leads a traditional hand drum group, Grandmothers of the Four Winds, and shares her traditional knowledge with anyone interested in Aboriginal ways.
Each year, the Order of B.C. honours list is filled with women and men selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by people across the province.
The Honours and Awards Secretariat even receive ones with international postmarks and emails from all corners of the globe. From local citizens to national and international personalities, all British Columbians are eligible for the Order of B.C. and its distinctive green and white dogwood inspired medal presented by the Lieutenant Governor.
More information about the Order of British Columbia including videos and nomination forms are available online at www.orderofbc.gov.bc.ca
. Nominations are encouraged through the year. To be considered for the 2011 honours please submit nomination forms by 5 p.m. Pacific time, March 10, 2011.