Kamloops, BC – On Wednesday, October 27, Mayor and Council honoured eight citizens with the City of Kamloops Exemplary Service Award. This award formally acknowledges individuals who have made a difference in our community through their dedication of time and service.
The awards were presented in a small ceremony in adherence with COVID-19 safety protocols. The ceremony included presentations for three individuals who were nominated in 2020 since a ceremony could not take place due to the pandemic. The recipients and some of the highlights of their contributions are listed below:
Christopher Seguin (posthumously)
Christopher Seguin was a larger-than-life man with a drive, dedication, and love for all people. His commitment to the citizens of Kamloops was evident by the initiatives he spearheaded and the time he volunteered to help this community thrive. Christopher was instrumental in fundraising for many causes at Thompson Rivers University. He also donated to help create numerous scholarships and bursaries as he inspired so many others to give back to the community. The countless hours Christopher spent volunteering his time contributed to the success of Rotary Club initiatives, including food drives, family dinners at NorKam Secondary School and the Starfish backpack program. Christopher also volunteered with the United Way and the Kamloops Marathon and contributed during the 2017 wildfire response. He was a true embodiment of the volunteer spirit, and we will forever remember him for it.
Shirley Philpot has spent most of her career caring for others and gives her time and talents with passion and generosity. Born and raised in Kamloops, Shirley spent many years in Girl Guides as a participant and a leader, where she influenced countless young women. Shirley’s positive influence also extends to hundreds of Thompson Rivers University students who have participated in her course Introduction to Community Service-Learning. Shirley’s volunteer time and energy has been spread to several local charities, most notably St. John Ambulance.
Tamara MacPherson Vukusic
In 2003, Tamara MacPherson Vukusic became a wonderful addition to our community. In the almost two decades since she arrived in Kamloops with her family, Tamara has volunteered and inspired community giving in many ways. She has shared her love for writing and poetry by volunteering time to support several reading programs, including School District No. 73’s one-to-one reading program and the Raise-a-Reader campaign. She organized Word Walk as part of the Unplug and Play program, and she created the Spark! app and the Spark Story Starters cards. She is also a proud member of the Two Rivers Métis Society.
In March 2020, Tamara started Sew the Curve, a collective of hundreds of sewers from Kamloops and surrounding communities who made and distributed tens of thousands of masks, scrub caps, bags, and headbands for front-line health care workers, community service groups, and vulnerable people throughout the pandemic. She saw a need in the community and filled it, using her time, energy, talents, and ability to organize, lead, and inspire.
Aleece Laird is the owner and CEO of Amplify Consulting. Outside of that role, she is an active community member who is highly engaged as a volunteer and often brings along her husband and sons to help. Aleece is a Thompson Rivers University alumna, and she mentors students in the Business and Economics programs. She enjoys providing insight to her career path and guidance to students. She currently volunteers with the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, Marketplace Leaders, and The Mustard Seed. Aleece truly exemplifies the spirit of service and community with her dedication to volunteering for non-profit agencies, leading local and provincial associations, and providing insight as a keynote speaker at multiple events.
In her 40-plus years living in Kamloops, Annette has contributed enormously to the ongoing success of the BIG Little Science Centre. She formed the BIG Little Science Centre Society, which was provincially registered in 2002 and a became a registered charitable organization in 2003. She is currently the Society’s acting president. As a volunteer for the BIG Little Science Centre Annette has helped with promotion, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment. Annette has volunteered with the Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts for the past 20 years as vice-president, and president which is her current position.
Other organizations that benefit from Annette’s volunteer services include the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo and the BC Interior Community Foundation. Annette has served as a School Board trustee and has been instrumental in creating the Gordon Gore Scholarship for high school students.
Gisela Ruckert has been volunteering in Kamloops for two decades, during which she has spearheaded some incredible initiatives. Gisela was instrumental in bringing caremongering to Kamloops when the pandemic struck, and she quickly connected those needing services to volunteers who were ready to provide support through the Neighbour 2 Neighbour network. She has also volunteered for Fair Vote Canada and founded the Fair Vote Kamloops Chapter. As a passionate leader of climate change and sustainability work, Gisela is a leading member in the Community Alliance for a Resilient Kamloops and a founder of Kamloops 350 along with its successor organization, Transition Kamloops, which focuses on increasing local resilience and self-sufficiency in food, water, energy, culture, and wellness. Gisela works tirelessly for the benefit of Kamloops, and her enthusiasm and sense of humour are infectious.
If there is an event being held in Kamloops, chances are Jan Antons is involved. A compassionate advocate for sports, Jan leads and contributes to more voluntary organization events and programs than can be listed here today, providing opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities to participate in activities, including KidSport, hockey, football, and lacrosse. Jan has also volunteered to support Paralympic sports. Jan is probably most well known for volunteering as Director of Ceremonies and Special Events for the 2018 BC Winter Games. Jan’s leadership, dedication, and professionalism are evident to everyone who has been privileged to work with him and to countless more who have taken part in sport in Kamloops and beyond.
Tara Holmes arrived in Kamloops in 1992 with a personal philosophy centred around community and giving back. She’s been described as funny, passionately vocal, and one who exemplifies community spirit through and through. When she is not busy connecting singles through her business, Where the Heart is Matchmaking Ltd., she finds the time to volunteer for several non-profit events, including Boogie the Bridge, Run Club, Rotary Ribfest, Terry Fox Run, Operation Red Nose, and many more. Tara also serves as an emcee for charitable events and has been a volunteer mentor. Meeting new people is what Tara likes the most about volunteering. She truly believes in making a positive difference in Kamloops.
For a list of past recipients, visit Exemplary Service Awards.