Fourteen Albertans awarded the Senate 150th Medal in recognition of significant contributions made to their communities

EDMONTON, November 14, 2017 – Fourteen Albertans were today awarded the Senate of Canada’s 150th Commemorative Medal in recognition of their significant contributions to their communities.  Recipients were chosen from nominations submitted to Senator Betty Unger from Albertans during the summer-long nomination process.

“Albertans embody the spirit of volunteering,” Senator Unger said. “In the last General Social Survey from Statistics Canada in 2013 – it was found that at least 50 percent of Albertans do volunteer work every year – a rate which surpasses the Canadian average.”

“This medal celebrates the sesquicentennial anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate on November 6, 1867, and was created to recognize Canadians who – through generosity, dedication and volunteer work – make their home town, community, region, province or territory a better place.”

“Canada’s 150th birthday is the perfect time to honour every-day Canadians who don’t always make the headlines, but have made a significant difference in the lives of others.”

The medal recipients are:

  • Rudolf Berghuys, Edmonton
  • Stephanie Berghuys, Edmonton
  • Clyde Blackburn, Grande Prairie
  • Ted Byfield, Edmonton
  • Ada Curial, St. Albert
  • Doris Doyle, Falher
  • Mona-Lee Feehan, Edmonton
  • Elizabeth King, Ross Haven
  • Michael Lee, Edmonton
  • Maureen Bianchini Purvis, Edmonton
  • Ralph Sorenson, Killam
  • Leo Tanghe, Canyon Creek
  • Alanna Thompson, Cochrane
  • Joy Wierenga, Barrhead

The medal awards ceremony was held at Government House in Edmonton. Senator Unger was joined for the presentation by Her Honour, the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, CM, AOE, LLD, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

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Back row (left to right): Clyde Blackburn, Maureen Bianchini Purvis, Stephanie Berghuys, Rudolf Berghuys, Alanna Thompson, Ted Byfield, Ralph Sorenson, Teresa Hufnagl (for Leo Tanghe), Monica Park (for Michael Lee), Mona-Lee Feehan. Front row (left to right): Elizabeth King, Joy Wierenga, Senator Betty Unger, Her Honour the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, His Honour, Honourary Colonel Douglas Mitchell, Ada Curial, Doris Doyle.

About the Recipients

Mr. Rudolf Berghuys and Mrs. Stephanie Berghuys, Edmonton
Mr. and Mrs. Berghuys are dedicated and tireless volunteers, often working long hours to serve their community and country. They are being jointly awarded a medal in recognition of their many years of volunteer work, which includes decades of service to both the Royal Canadian Humane Association, and the Royal Life Saving Society.

Mr. Clyde Blackburn, Grande Prairie
Mr. Blackburn is well known in his community of Grande Prairie for his numerous and ongoing volunteer contributions to the city. These have been described as “too many to mention”, but include the Grande Prairie International Street Performers Festival Association, the Grande Prairie Live Theatre, the Bear Creek Folk Music Festival and the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, amongst many others.

Mr. Ted Byfield, Edmonton
Mr. Byfield’s contributions to his community, province and country have spanned a lifetime. Most people know him as a writer and publisher, where he has used his talents both on and off the job to promote good public policy and strong societal values. Fewer know that before his publishing years he spent almost twenty years of his life mentoring young men, as they grew through their teen years into adulthood. This medal is being awarded to Ted in honour of a lifetime service to his community and his country.

Mrs. Ada Curial, St. Albert
Mrs. Curial has dedicated much of her adult life to helping mentally handicapped adults live fuller, more independent lives. She was instrumental in the founding of LoSeCa, an organization which provides homes for young mentally handicapped adults wishing to live more independently. Today, LoSeCa oversees 25 residences for people with disabilities. Mrs. Curial also established the “I Am Unique” second hand thrift store in St. Albert, which raises financial support for LoSeCa, and developed a literacy program for those suffering from mental disabilities.

Ms. Doris Doyle, Falher
Ms.  Doyle has had over 50 years of continuous involvement and dedication to volunteer work in her community. She has been involved with countless volunteer groups and activities as well as individual acts of generosity. Many local organizations have benefited from her fundraising activities including Smoky River Fire & Rescue, Peace Regional Women’s Shelter, Smoky River Historical & Genealogical Society, and the Sacred Heart Ladies Auxiliary. Ms. Doyle is also a mentor to many people when they begin their journey of volunteerism. By providing her knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for community involvement, her legacy lives on through future community volunteers.

Dr. Mona-Lee Feehan, Edmonton
Dr. Feehan is a pioneer in Alberta in the field of marriage preparation, marriage relationships and couples therapy. Her community involvement and volunteerism include serving on numerous boards, including the Parish Council of St. John Bosco Parish, Acadian House Association, Newman Theological College Foundation, Archdiocesan Synod on the Family, Western Canada Family Life Conference Coordinating Committee, the Edmonton Catholic Schools Foundation, and much more. Dr. Feehan’s efforts exemplify the community involvement and volunteerism that this medal seeks to acknowledge.

Mrs. Elizabeth King, Ross Haven
Mrs. King has given decades of unsung community service, focused around children and youth. Her volunteer service includes past involvement with Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association (a non-profit, charitable organization that provides recreational horseback riding with therapeutic benefits for children and adults with disabilities), Camp He Ho Ha, and Ross Haven Bible Camp. Mrs. King has been involved with her community league, spent many years volunteering for local children’s clubs, and has assisted in coaching baseball. For years she helped manage an online forum of helpful advice to young mothers, and continues to mentor and counsel young women today.

Dr. Michael Lee, Edmonton
Dr. Lee is an active volunteer in his community. He has held many positions, such as: President of the Chinese Students’ Association of Alberta, President of the Photographic Arts Society of Alberta, President of the Chinese Soccer Association of Alberta, President of the Life Enrichment for the Elderly Community Association of Edmonton, National Director of the National Congress of Canadian Chinese, Treasurer and Founding Member of the Guizhou Rose Society, and Chairperson of Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association.

Mrs. Maureen Bianchini Purvis, Edmonton
Mrs. Bianchini Purvis co-founded the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation in recognition of the sacrifice of the Canadian men and women who have lost their lives in the service of peace, at home and abroad. Mrs. Bianchini Purvis was inspired by her own deceased parents, who both served for Canada during the Second World War, and by her daughter, Mrs. Keely Yates. As a young child, Mrs. Yates placed a poppy on her grandparents’ headstones every Remembrance Day and couldn’t help but notice that many soldiers’ headstones were without a poppy year after year. The goal of the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation is to honour our fallen military and to educate students of the sacrifice of our veterans, by placing poppies at their headstones every November.

Mr. Ralph Sorenson, Killam
For 21 years, Mr. Sorenson worked tirelessly, organizing and performing an annual charity auction with all proceeds going to various charities within his community. He traveled hundreds of miles all over Alberta to obtain donated items for the charity auction and never took payment for his time or expenses. This is the last year Mr. Sorenson will be organizing the charity auction personally and was recommended for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated, selfless service.

Mr. Leo Tanghe, Canyon Creek
Mr. Tanghe is an indigenous traditional healer, Cree elder and natural herbalist. He travels all over the north to help people through traditional healing and counseling. Although Mr. Tanghe’s expertise required decades of training and mentoring, much of his practice is volunteer, as he works to help people from all walks of life. Mr. Tanghe was nominated for this award in recognition of his many years of helping others.

Mrs. Alanna Thompson, Cochrane
Mrs. Thompson exemplifies the kind of person that this award seeks to honour – those who may not be in the news headlines, but make a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of people in their community. From participating in food drives, to making up hampers for low income families, volunteering for clothing drives, feeding homeless people, initiating community pot luck suppers, and organizing Easter egg hunts for families, Mrs. Thompson’s consistent volunteer service has made her community a better place to live.

Mrs. Joy Wierenga, Neerlandia
Mrs. Wierenga has invested significant energy and time into community events and celebrations, some of which took months of planning. In addition, she organized the compilation and writing of her community’s history, detailing the lives of the first settlers in the region, and later, the community’s more recent history. She organized and produced drama productions which raised significant amounts of money for community projects, such as a hockey rink and community celebrations. She is described as one “whose dedication and passion for her community is boundless, and the impact she has had on the lives of those in the local area, is hard to overstate.”

About the Medals