Locals to receive Medal of Good Citizenship
Neil Cook of Cranbrook and Chief M. Jason Louie of Yaqan nu?kiy/Creston are among the 18 people being honoured throughout B.C. with the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship for outstanding service and commitment to helping others in their communities.
“Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Good Citizenship Medal. Your outstanding contributions to the well-being of your communities inspire us all,” said Premier John Horgan. “The generous gifts of your time and support make a difference in people’s lives and help build a stronger province for everyone.”
Neil Cook has been a driving force in his community of Cranbrook and the East Kootenay. During the 26 years he has lived in Cranbrook he has chosen to volunteer his time with many organizations and projects, all with the goal of helping people and improving his community. Over the years, Cook has shared his knowledge and experience by serving on the boards of the local Canadian Mental Health Association, the Cranbrook Family Centre, Cranbrook Society for Community Living and the Cranbrook United Way.
Cook was instrumental in founding the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation in 2003. Now known as the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies, this successful organization currently holds $2.5 million across 37 permanently invested endowment funds and supports many community services and organizations.
Serving as president and then director of the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies over 17 years, Cook contributed a great deal to the organization’s success and its vision of supporting local communities to be better places to live, work and play.
Volunteering much of his time with non-profit organizations, Cook served for seven years as the volunteer Chair of the East Kootenay Homeless Coalition. During this time, he has worked tirelessly to build a 24/7 homeless shelter in Cranbrook. That work is ongoing.
Known throughout the community as someone who is kind, inclusive and generous, Cook and his wife Marilynne have welcomed 24 foster children into their hearts and home over the years. Cook’s service work extends to local services clubs. He has been a member of Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary, the Cranbrook Rotary and Kinsmen clubs.
Cook’s other volunteer contributions in his community include 22 years of volunteering with the Cranbrook Community Christmas Dinner as a fundraiser and chef, and a 10-year member of the Church Committee at Christ Church Anglican.
With many other interests Cook continues to play a key role in supporting community fundraisers and events from SPCA to the Cranbrook Children’s Festival, to the Canadian Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes.
Chief Jason Louie was first elected as Chief of the Lower Kootenay Band in 2010. Currently serving his third term as leader of the Ktunaxa people, he is known as a strong leader dedicated to building an economy where his people are self-sufficient, while retaining harmony with Ktunaxa traditions and values.
Born in Creston, Louie has worked collaboratively to build positive relationships with neighbouring communities and the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Through his commitment and persistence, Louie has developed a friendship between the Ktunaxa people and their neighbours. Louie’s welcoming policy invites select individuals to share in the experiences and culture of the Lower Kootenay Band to participate alongside him, his family and the Ktunaxa people–in even the most sacred ceremonies.
For over 30 years, Louie has been involved with the Lower Kootenay Band Annual Pow Wow, one of the few remaining Pow Wows in North America. He also organizes and participates in many Ktunaxa youth initiatives and is passionate about preserving the Ktunaxa language. Louie is well respected for his openness about his personal struggle with PTSD and depression and is a tireless advocate for mental health awareness. He regularly leads traditional ceremonies for First Nation people living with mental illness and addictions.
Louie is known for his open and respectful dialogue between the Lower Kootenay Band, the Town of Creston, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the RCMP, Canadian and US Border Services and a wide variety of volunteer groups and community service organizations in the Creston Valley.
Louie served his country in the Canadian Armed Forces, Army Reserve, from 2004–2012. In honour of his many contributions and achievements, Louie received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and in 2013 was a recipient of a British Columbia Community Achievement Award.
Under Louie’s leadership the Lower Kootenay Band has made some important acquisitions. In 2015, the Band acquired Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, bringing traditional lands back into the community and providing local jobs.
Through an Incremental Treaty Agreement, the Band has also acquired 475 acres of lakefront property on Kootenay Lake. Other positive developments under Louie’s leadership include a $1.5 million water system for the Band; construction of a $1.5 million addition to the Yaqan Nukiy school, over $300,000 in renovations to Lower Kootenay Band housing units, construction of a traditional Round House in the Ktunaxa community and a farming program to raise and produce beef for community food stores.
Louie has also been a driving force in the development of a health facilities building and an alcohol and drug treatment centre to serve the Lower Kootenay Band.
Above all, Chief Louie is passionate about creating a future in which the Lower Kootenay Band become equal citizens, in a province and country that includes and recognizes First Nations Peoples as autonomous neighbours, within the traditional lands that we all call home.
Launched in 2015, the Medal of Good Citizenship recognizes individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life. Recipients were nominated by members of their communities.
“The medal recognizes people who selflessly donate their time and talents to making life better for people in their communities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and chair of the medal’s selection committee. “I am truly honoured to congratulate them and say thank you for your dedication and hard work on behalf of all British Columbians.”
This year’s recipients were selected from more than 100 nominees.
In addition to the Medal of Good Citizenship, people may be nominated for the Province’s other honour, the Order of British Columbia. This award recognizes people who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour, benefiting British Columbians and others across Canada and beyond. The nomination deadline for the Order of B.C. is March 6, 2020.