FORT ST. JOH, B.C. – The winners have been announced for the Fort St. John Community Awards. The gala occurred on May 26th with keynote speaker Gurdeep Pandher.

Mayor Lori Ackerman described the awards ceremony.

“The community awards gala is an annual event honouring the efforts of the members of our community. It’s our chance to say thanks and give back to those individuals in our city,” she explained.

“This year, we have Gurdeep Pandher coming to share his culture with us through his dancing, and we also have the drummers of the Doig River First Nations Reserve here to play for us. I think the two events being combined is a great example of the fusion of culture you can find here in Fort St. John.”

Gurdeep Pandher also visited a few schools during his trip to the city.

“My favourite part of Fort St. John is the people here. Everyone smiles, and it’s always very happy vibes,” he said.

Pandher visited Dr. Kearney, Robert Ogilvie, Anne Roberts Young and the Energetic Learning Centre before the awards ceremony.

“I loved how excited all of the children were to learn about the dances I was teaching them as well as my culture,” Pandher said.

“They had such good questions, like why I wore my turban and what its colour meant. It was encouraging to be breaking down barriers of culture with the kids.”

Pandher danced during the ceremony and taught the audience how to dance to the Doig River Indigenous Drummers. He was also featured as the keynote speaker.

Doig River Indigenous Drummers (JJ Stewart)

“They gave me this beautiful pair of moccasins,” Pandher said.

Gurdeep Pandher wearing the Doig River First Nation’s moccasins (Gurdeep Pandher – Facebook)

The Community Awards have several different categories divided by the specific type of positive impact made by its recipient.

The Youth Award goes to an individual or group under 19 that made a positive contribution to the community as a volunteer.

This award went to Kayla Valerie Braun for her contributions to the Fort St. John Salvation Army.

Mike Harrison, Christina Francis, Cherise Olafson, Erin Ferris, and Kayla Braun. (Fort St. John Salvation Army – Facebook)

The Humanitarian Award goes to an individual or group whose actions, commitment, volunteer leadership, service and community spirit have made a difference in the lives of community members.

This was awarded to Kim Turney.

The Arts and Culture Award goes to an individual, group or organization for their community contribution that is expressed through literacy, visual or performing arts, cultural diversity or heritage education.

Sabrina Brooks received this award for her contribution to the arts in Fort St. John.

Sabrina Brooks’ Award (Sabrina Angelique Brooks – Facebook)

The Recreation and Sport Award goes to an individual or group for their volunteer efforts in promotion, organization, support or motivation of sports, recreation and leisure activities.

This was given to the Fort St. John Huskies, a local hockey team.

The Business Award goes to an individual, business, or non-profit that contributes to social innovation, mentorship, or community investment.

This was awarded to Wyld Acres Farm & Arena.

“I’ll tell all the critters tomorrow,” a Facebook post from Wyld Acres said after the ceremony. “I’m sure they won’t care, but they deserve to know!”

The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to an individual or group that has improved the quality of life for citizens of Fort St. John or brought positive recognition to the city.

This was awarded to Gary and Trudy Alexander, both involved with hockey in Fort St. John.

The Mayor’s Citizen of the Year Award goes to individuals who have received positive notoriety outside of the community for their actions as leaders or role models.

This award went to Mike Acko.

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.