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Kamenka honoured at volunteer awards

He has been an integral part of keeping wildlife wild and people smart and last week Canmore’s Pat Kamenka was honoured for his service to the community.

He has been an integral part of keeping wildlife wild and people smart and last week Canmore’s Pat Kamenka was honoured for his service to the community.

Kamenka, a founding member of Bow Valley WildSmart, received the Paul Greig Award for Environmental Stewardship at the Mayor’s Awards for Volunteer Excellence, Thursday (April 14).

Mayor Ron Casey said the award recognizes those who are dedicated to making the overall world we live in a better place.

“For the past five years (Kamenka), has dedicated his time to building support for the program, attaining funding for the organization in its infancy and chairing a coalition of government agencies, environmental organizations and community members in creating a conservation strategy to reduce conflict between people and wildlife,” Casey said.

As a third generation Canmore resident, the mayor said Kamenka has a lifetime of experience living with wildlife and a passion to see both the community and the animals thrive.

Kamenka said he was surprised and honoured to receive the award.

“There are so many people doing good things in the community,” he said. “I’m pleased… it was nice to be recognized.”

While nominated for his work with WildSmart, Kamenka said that is only one aspect of environmental stewardship in his life and his philosophy.

“There is always that sense that people shouldn’t be on the planet and I don’t subscribe to that,” he said. “We are part of the evolution of the planet and have a place here, but we have to accept that part.

“That means we then have to look at responsible ways of interacting with the rest of the planet.”

As his philosophy in life, it is a good fit with WildSmart programming

WildSmart education program director Kim Titchener said Kamenka has been an inspiration to her.

“He has been an incredible inspiration to me as a young person coming to this community,” she said. “We could not have done WildSmart without him.”

Also nominated in the category were Jack and Marion Whitworth.

Casey said Canmore would not be the desired place to live it is today without all the volunteers in the community.

“(Canmore) would be an entirely different place without the volunteer effort that goes into it,” said the mayor. “(People) come here because of the lifestyle, because of the community and they come here because people and (volunteers) are the ones enriching this place.”

Casey said there is no scale by which one could measure the contributions volunteers make to the community, calling the hours just the nominees put into the community mind-boggling.

In the corporate for-profit category, the award went to Sobeys Canmore Crossing and its manager, Steve Ladas.

Casey said the grocery store donates to many of Canmore’s charities and organizations with space, time and food, including St. Michael’s annual Thanksgiving turkey supper and the United Church’s ham supper.

“Steve is described as so generous and happy to donate where he can there is not a person, event or service group that has not been affected by the generosity of Sobeys Canmore Crossing,” said the mayor.

While Ladas was unable to attend the awards, assistant manager Matt Duggan said the store takes a lot of pride in giving back.

“It is a real community store and Steve makes sure all his employees are part of that,” he said.

Also nominated in the category were Panago Pizza, Starbucks and Dan Sparks and Associates.

Casey said the youth category is always extremely difficult to make a decision on.

“The amount of work and what they do is amazing,” he said. “It is very inspiring to know we have another generation of great volunteers in the community.”

Jenna Buxton received the award in the youth category with Ava Peacock, Polly Eason and Tara McConnery also nominated.

Buxton has given back to the community over the past two years by leading a Relay for Life team, helping with the 24 Hours of Spin event and is currently president of the 2011 Canmore Collegiate High School grad community, just to name a few.

Casey drew attention to the fact Buxton did something he doesn’t often see – she came out and voiced her opinion at a recent public hearing on the Land Use Bylaw.

“That takes a great deal of courage for a young person to step up to that microphone in a room full of adults,” said the mayor.

Long-time volunteer Sally Young received the volunteer award in the adult category.

Casey noted Young has been involved in a wide variety of programs in the community and deserves special credit for her time and efforts maintaining the gardens at the Canmore Hospital, which are enjoyed by the residents of the Eagle View long-term care facility.

“If there ever is a need for help, Sally Young is there,” Casey said. “She truly goes above and beyond to make sure people and events in our community are successful.”

Also nominated were Marty Melchoir and Mike Vlessides, Linda Dunbar, Faith Harckham, Caroline Murphy, Chrystel Vultier, Kristy Chambers, Rayna Tupper, Jeff Lodge, Andrew Hicks and Greg Thompson, Jason Knutdson, Alvin Shier, Pauline Marra, Helen Rolfe and Heather Wilz.

Victory Thrift Store, The Rogue Theatre and Mountain Grannies were also nominated in the corporate non-profit category, but it was the 878 Banff/Canmore Air Cadet Squadron that received the award.

Casey said over the past 30 years, the air cadets have kept kids in schools and given youth a place to go on weekends.

Brian Scriven, chair of the Air Cadet sponsor board, said it is wonderful to have recognition for the number of years the organization has put into providing excellent youth programming.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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