Mabel Forsythe and Bronwyn Henwood each received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals for service to their communities Dec. 3 at the Old Church in Smithers.
The award was established by Queen Elizabeth 2 to commemorate her 60 years as Queen of England and to recognize community service throughout the commonwealth.
In all, 60,000 Canadians will be awarded the Jubilee medal.
Forsythe and Henwood were nominated through MLA Doug Donaldson’s Stikine constituency office.
“These medals are significant because they mark longevity and tradition,” Donaldson said before calling up the recipients.
“I think the people we are celebrating today are fine examples of that.”
Longevity and tradition were key in Forsythe’s nomination, Donaldson said, noting she is a holder and teacher of the Wet’suwet’en culture.
“Mabel has done an incredible job ensuring her culture is shared with the young people,” Donaldson said.
Forsythe, who has volunteered countless hours sharing her knowledge with youth, beamed after receiving her Jubilee medal.
“It feels pretty good,” Forsythe said.
Her involvement in the community follows a simple formula learned from her elders, she said.
“I don’t know how to say no when people ask me to do something,” she said.
“I’m ready and willing.”
Joan Hunt, early childhood development co-ordinator at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, nominated Forsythe.
“She’s always there,” Hunt said.
“Even if it’s a last minute call, if it’s for the children, she’s there.”
“I nominated her for preserving the history, culture, crafts and stories through children, who can then pass on what they learned in the future,” Hunt said.
Bronwyn Henwood was nominated by Anne Docherty, Storytellers’ Foundation executive director.
“She’s like our very own happiness project,” Docherty said.
“The value of people like Bronwyn in the Hazeltons is not only that we have more community infrastructure, but we all have a greater sense of goodwill towards each other.”
Henwood, formerly of the Kispiox Valley, has been integral in providing amenities enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
She was instrumental in the fundraising and planning that led to the construction of the New Hazelton Skateboard and Bike park, which is a blur of activity during Spring, Summer and Fall.
Henwood also helped establish the Skeena Bakery, which she now manages.
One of the employees, Harvey Turner, is glad Henwood is the boss.
“She has really good people skills,” Turner said.
“I like working for her a lot, because she trains us to do everything and then lets us do it.”
Henwood, however, said she has come about a Jubilee medal by coincidence.
“It wasn’t as though I had any huge interest in the Skate and Bike park, my sister actually got me to go to one of the meetings and I ended up being one of five people that made the park happen,” Henwood said.
“The bakery needed a director on the board and that turned into being a volunteer worker, which turned into being the manager.”
Her husband, Robert, has been there right along with her.
“You don’t know how many hamburgers we sold to build that skate park,” Robert said.
The bakery employs five people and several others volunteer at the bakery.
“I’m opened to accepting responsibility when asked to do things.”
Although she’s been wheelchair bound since just before moving to New Hazelton 11 years ago, it hasn’t prevented her from providing for the community.
Henwood also helped to bring, Measuring Up The North, an organization working to ensure equal accessibility for physically challenged people in northern communities, to the Hazeltons.
“I like to be behind the scenes doing the grunt work,” Henwood said.
Forsythe and Henwood were among several worthy candidates, Donaldson said.
“We had many names come through our office nominating people,” Donaldson said.
“We had a tough time choosing, but I think the selection committee did a great job.”