Five Fort McMurray residents are receiving the countries highest volunteer recognition.
At a ceremony in Edmonton Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell presented the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers to 18 community leaders and volunteers from across Alberta, which included Fort McMurray firefighters Ryan Pitchers, Brad Grainger, Scott Germain, Dana Allen, and Patrick Duggan.
The award was first presented in Ottawa in April 2016 and recognizes exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians in a wide range of fields.
Pitchers has been with the Fort McMurray Fire Department for 17 years. The captain lends his time to the firefighter charities, honour guard and is a service officer with the Royal Canadian Legion.
He tells Mix News the recognition is very humbling.
“As firefighters, I believe it’s part of our job to volunteer and give back to our community. I think as a citizen of Fort McMurray, I’ve been here going on 41-years, I think it’s important that we do give back to a community that is so giving.”
Germain, an acting captain with the fire department, echoes Pitchers sentiment saying he’s honoured to be recognized, but credits his colleagues.
“There are a lot of people within in our fire department who volunteer and they’re really the reason that makes my job easier. I’m one of the guys who organizes the volunteer events, such as a Rooftop Campout, so without our volunteers helping out we wouldn’t have the success we’ve been having. I’m very honoured to receive the recognition but it’s impart due to everyone else helping out.”
Grainger, Deputy Chief of Operations for the RMWB, says the importance of volunteering is something his parents instilled in him at an early age.
“To be able to do that and be recognized for it is an amazing honour, but it’s about encouraging other people to get out and volunteer for the community as well. There’s a lot of people out there and lots of groups that could use some help. If we’re able to help give an hour, give two hours a week or two hours a month, every little bit helps.”
Assistant Deputy Chief Allen has a long history of volunteering in the community, including serving with Scouts Canada. While Duggan has 13 years of service as a member of the Fort McMurray Fire Department, he’s raised funds for a number of local charities, including Santas Anonymous and the local food bank. He has organized the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Day ceremonies and has helped raise funds to build a municipal fallen firefighter memorial.
A second ceremony will be held in Calgary on October 24 to honour recipients from Southern Alberta.