Fort St. John's 2020 community award winners

Fort St. John held its annual community awards online on Monday night.

Here are the winners:

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Youth Award

Pauleanne Codilla
Pauleanne Codilla, 2020 Fort St. John Youth Award winner.

North Peace Secondary grad Pauleanne Codilla received the Youth Award.

The award recognizes an individual under the age of 19 who has made a positive contribution to the community on a volunteer basis such as developing a project, serving on a committee and/or other volunteer work with organizations and groups.

Codilla was recognized as a busy student whose volunteerism started with Rotary’s Interact youth club, where she serves as international director. She was also recognized for her work volunteering and raising funds for the Salvation Army and Women’s Resource Society, and as a tutor for the Literacy Society. Codilla is also president of the NPSS student council, where she served as delegate for BC Student Voice and established a Girls Can Talk program to provide empowerment and a safe space for her peers.

Codilla said the award was unexpected, though noted she was also the only nominee in the youth category this year.

“I’m so incredibly grateful,” Codilla said.

Culture Award

Jessica Harrison
Jessica Harrison, 2020 Fort St. John Cultural Award winner.

Jessica Harrison received the Cultural Award.

The award recognizes an individual or a group for their volunteer efforts in historical, visual, performing, or literary arts.

Harrison, a graphic designer and city employee, was recognized for her work with the North Peace Potters Guild, and for the hundreds of hours worked for this year's BC Winter Games as creative services chair. In that position, she recruited, mentored, and worked with volunteers to create the event’s branding and promo materials.

“It’s amazing, thank you for recognizing all the work that’s gone into BC Games this year,” Harrison said.

“It was an amazing experience, it was more hours than I originally thought I’d be putting in, but when I saw it all come together for the event it was really worth it.” 

Runners up were Filipino artist Ovvian Castrillo-Hill and Stage North actress, producer, and board director Stevi MacGillivray.

Humanitarian Award

Jeanette Johnston
Jeanette Johnston, 2020 Fort St. John Humanitarian Award winner.

Jeanette Johnston received the Humanitarian Award.

The award recognizes an individual or a group of volunteers whose actions, commitment, volunteer leadership, service and community spirit have made a difference in the lives of those in the community.

Johnston was recognized as the founder of the Phoenix Volunteer Club, through which she has organized carnivals, winter hampers, sandwiches for the homeless, coat drives for kids, and senior suppers.

“One little bit at a time,” Johnston said about finding the time for all the volunteer work. “I do what I can and give back as much as I can.”

Runners up were dentist Dr. Henry Ma and Vanessa Siemens-Ford, who runs the North Peace Seniors Connect and Care program.

Recreation Award

Eliza Stanford
Eliza Stanford, 2020 Fort St. John Recreation Award winner.

Eliza Stanford received the Recreation Award.

The award recognizes an individual or a group for their volunteer efforts in the promotion, organization, support, and/or motivation of sports, recreation, and leisure pursuits including healthy and active living.

Stanford was recognized as president of the Whiskey Jack Nordic Ski Club, and her work to bring the Beatton park ski trails up to standard for the Winter Games. Stanford was also recognized as a volunteer for the city’s High on Ice winter festival, and as an accomplished artist.

“It feels pretty nice, but I feel like there’s still so much to do,” Stanford said with a laugh.

Getting the trails ready for the Games was quite the journey, said Stanford, who organized the construction of a shop, timing hut, and new accessible outhouse, and secured updated equipment to groom the trails.

“It was a really busy summer and fall, but we managed to pull together a lot of incredible volunteers from within our club and beyond our club into the community,” Stanford said. “That was pretty rewarding, to be able to each out and engage with more people in the community.” 

Runners up were atom hockey co-ordinator Madison Hiebert and Big Bam Ski Hill & Recreation.

Business Award

Dr. Herriot
Dr. Herriot and North Peace Optometry, 2020 Fort St. John Business Award winners.

Dr. Herriot and the staff at North Peace Optometry Clinic received the Business Award.

The award recognizes the distinguished contributions of an individual, business or non-profit organization towards areas including, and not limited to; social innovation, mentorship, or investing in the community.

The clinic was recognized for eye education programs and bringing eye exams to outlying communities and reserves, as well as for its work with the school district and the Alliance Church to provide free exams and eyewear to students and for children of single mothers for Christmas and Mother's Day.

“We could just see a lot of these communities outside of Fort St. John were in need of help, and there’s a lot of people that maybe can’t make the travel here. So we started reaching out to the reserves and Hudson’s Hope and all those communities, and we made arrangements to visit there,” said Kelly Lynn Herriott. “It’s well received and we usually spend a few days there seeing people.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Roxanne Chmelyk
Roxanne Chmelyk, 2020 Fort St. John Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Roxanne Chmelyk received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award recognizes an individual’s remarkable contribution and dedication to the community to improve its quality of life, or bring recognition to the city.

Chmelyk was recognized as the longstanding leader of the Seniors Care Foundation, which offers nutrition, housekeeping, and chaplaincy services to maintain quality of living for local seniors. She was also recognized for the countless hours spent organizing events including the annual music jamboree fundraiser, and other themed events for seniors for Valentine's Day, Red Hat teas, picnics, and country drives.

“It leaves me speechless, it does. It’s very overwhelming,” said Chmelyk, who has worked with seniors since 1994.

“I’ve seen the joy and I’ve seen the difference in the lives of those people when you work with them and try to give them the quality of life that they so much deserve. It’s a real joy. The more I do for them, the more they bring back to me."

"I always say I hope when I'm there that there's someone that will do the same things for me," she said. "There's no end to the things I would like do for them. I do as much as I can and all the volunteers that work with me it wouldn't be possible."

Runners up were junior hockey organizer, coach, and Kinsmen Bob Trobak, and longtime volunteer and musician Mary Edith Campbell.

Mayor's Citizen of the Year

BC Winter Games President Darren Snider and his team, 2020 Fort St. John Mayor's Citizen of the Year Award winners.

The 2020 BC Winter Games board of directors were named Mayor’s Citizen of the Year.

The award recognizes an individual that has achieved positive notoriety outside our community for their actions, is recognized as leaders or role models by their peers, or has won international, national, or provincial titles or awards for their efforts.

The board was led President Darren Snider and Vice-President Dee-Ann Stickel. They were rounded out by Pat Lang, Tony Zabinsky, Margaret May, Patricia Sagert, Lynette Cordonier, Kendra Delitche, Judy Neumeier, Jennifer Moore, Neil Evans, Stephanie Giesbrecht, Heather McCracken, Curtis Redpath, Angela Telford, and Cindy Dettling.

"It is remarkable to have this kind of spirit in the community," said Ackerman. "I remember speaking to them when it was first beginning and telling the directors it was going to be tough slogging; you're going to make friends, you’re going to learn things about the community that you didn’t know about. But most of all you will be rewarded."

Snider said the journey to the Games was a winding two-year road that went was able to go off in February before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Games brought more than 1,500 of B.C.'s best young athletes to town in late February, and saw an estimated 2,000 volunteers. They raised $1 million in cash and in-kind sponsorships, and are estimated to have brought $1.6 million in economic activity to the city and region.

"When I started the project, I thought it was a sporting event — a very large sporting event, but still just a sporting event," Snider said. "By the time the Games came around, it really became more of a community event centred around some sporting events."

"The Games really highlighted how proud people are of their community. I was surprised many times with the amount of time and dedication that our chairs and directors put into the Games," Snider said, noting volunteers ranged in age from 12 to 90.

"Right from the start, people were out to prove what a great Games Fort St. John could provide ... everyone wanted to showcase Fort St. John for the rest of the province and we did."

There were more than 30 nominees for this year's awards.

The ceremony opened with greetings from Doig River elder Gerry Attachie, and a drum performance and honour song by Coun. Garry Oker.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

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