Former senator Richard Neufeld receives Freedom of the City

The City of Fort St. John officially awarded its highest honour to a former North Peace MLA, B.C. Senator and …

The City of Fort St. John officially awarded its highest honour to a former North Peace MLA, B.C. Senator and Fort Nelson mayor, Richard Neufeld.

Neufeld received the Freedom of the City during a ceremony at city hall on Thursday after council agreed that both he and former mayor Jim Eglinski should receive this recognition back in 2019.

Neufeld started his political career as the mayor of Fort Nelson in 1981 for five years and continued his career through multiple levels of government for 40 years.  He served four terms as MLA for Peace River North, including eight years as Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Neufeld was appointed to the Senate in 2009.

“Senator Neufeld represented our community and region for almost four decades, making countless contributions to our community, province and country. The City of Fort St. John is proud to present him with this award and add him to the list of those who always go above and beyond for our community,” stated Mayor Lori Ackerman.

The Freedom of the City is the highest honour given by the City and is used in exceptional cases to recognize the significant contributions the recipient has made to the community of Fort St. John.

Watching Neufeld receive the honour was his daughter, his two grandchildren, council, former FSJ mayor, Steve Thorlakson, and former Fort Nelson and FSJ city manager, Colin Griffith.

MP Bob Zimmer sent in a video congratulating Neufeld as he was in Ottawa.

“You were committed to British Columbians, and you showed up. I can’t thank you enough for always being there,” said Zimmer.

“You chaired the Natural Resource Committee. For many years, you brought your knowledge to the job. Most of all, you brought your heart. You really cared about our country. You cared to get those natural resource developed. Canadians need to do it. It provides Canadian jobs and great livelihoods to all of our constituents. You were there for them.”

MLA Dan Davies sent a letter, read by Mayor Ackerman, thanking Neufeld for his work.

“Knowing you over the past many years, I cannot think of a more deserving person than you to receive this incredible honour,” read Davies’ letter.

“The work and lasting impact of your dedication will be felt and appreciated for many years.”

Neufeld thanked everyone for their kind words and the award recognizing his work.

“In politics, they say you’re remembered for 10 minutes after you leave,” said Neufeld. “This award puts a lie to that saying. I appreciate that very much. ”

After mentioning his wife, Montana, was in Port Alberni visiting their son and grandchildren, he took the time to give the audience a glimpse into his career.

“I was so fortunate to be able to be the Minister of Energy and see the things around the world. I travelled the world. Not just for the fun of it, but to see what was going on in other countries.”

Neufeld concluded his speech by thanking Ackerman before mentioning the plaque he received from the City.

“I will remember this.”

Previous Freedom of the City recipients, include Charles ‘Bud’ Hamilton, the 2276 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, and Eglinski, who received the honour last month.

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