CANMORE – Long-time Canmore resident Carol Picard earned a major honour when she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
The recognition comes from her years helping the community as a journalist, member of the school board and volunteer.
“[I’m] a little overwhelmed, feeling somewhat undeserved,” Picard said. “There are a lot of people in this community who do a lot. It is a huge honour.”
Picard received the call about the medal from Edmonton, and she received it at the Oct. 19 Canadian Rockies Public Schools [CRPS] meeting.
While Picard doesn’t consider herself to be a monarchist, that hasn’t lessened the impact of the award for her.
“I am not a monarchist,” Picard said. “I am just overwhelmed to be getting such a tremendous honour.”
Picard’s path toward the school board began in the 1970s when she was an education beat reporter in Winnipeg. At the time, Baby Boomers were graduating from high school and teachers were being laid off due to a lack of students at the schools built for Boomers.
“This was the late-70s, early-80s, and the politics were interesting and the protesting was quite significant, but I learned a lot then about how the system has to be geared towards the number of students you’ve got,” Picard said. “You can’t keep a big system going if your kids aren’t there anymore.”
By the 1990s, she was living in Canmore, and took a hiatus from the newspaper, the Canmore Leader to run for the CRPS school board. She would serve on the board from 1998 to 2001.
“While I was there, it was when I started working on the business plan for the Outlook, and then I had to step away from the school board and work on the Outlook,” Picard said.
After co-founding the Rocky Mountain Outlook, she eventually left the paper and returned to the school board in 2010, where she has remained ever since. From 2012 to 2021, she also served as chair of the CRPS.
“I’ve always been fascinated with politics,” Picard said. “This grassroots level is an area that has always fascinated me because it is so impactful on our society.”
Compared to municipal, provincial and federal politics, school boards don’t get as much notice but their importance cannot be underestimated, according to Picard.
“You need to know your teachers are well supported and your teachers need to know that the board and administration have their backs,” Picard said. “It is its own little microcosm. Without a good education, we are sending into society kids that don’t know how to be good citizens.”
Along with the school board, Picard served with the Christmas Spirit Campaign, the Canmore Music Festival, the Canmore Folk Festival, Canmore Food and Friends, the Alberta Winter Games and Canmore Highland Games.
She also served as a member of the first committee examining the feasibility of creating artsPlace.
For those interested in joining the school board, Picard says it's best to prepare now by attending meetings and following the minutes.
“We got three more years on this mandate, so there is lots of time,” Picard said. “Your job is to make sure that the dollars that we have are spent wisely and you will understand how tough decisions have to be made.”