Derek Meerdink

Telkwa residents honoured with Jubilee medals

Telkwa honoured four of their residents with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals during a special ceremony.

Telkwa honoured four of their residents with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals during a special ceremony.

Telkwa Mayor Carman Graf, Doug Boersema, Wilf Fuerst and Henk Meerdink were recognized for their contributions to community life in Telkwa.

A native of Nova Scotia, Graf, began his political career in Smithers in 1971, a time when he and his wife Joan were operating four businesses, as councillor and mayor.

“It was a pretty hectic time,” Graf said.

After 21 years of service Graf took a break, but returned to municipal politics in the Village of Telkwa and is now in his second term as mayor.

“There were things I wanted to change, so I got involved,” Graf said.

Graf contributes to the community of Telkwa in other ways including volunteering with Meals on Wheels and sitting on the boards of various community organizations at various times.

“It means a lot to be recognized for my efforts,” Graf said of his close to 35-year career in municipal politics.

“Most of the time it’s fun, I quite enjoy it.”

The three remaining volunteers were nominated by the Village of Telkwa.

“Volunteers are what make a community,” Graf said.

Boersema, 68, a retired school teacher, was nominated by the mayor and council of Telkwa for his unwavering commitment to the preservation of the history of Telkwa and area and his volunteer work with the Telkwa Museum.

“He wears the museum on his coat sleeve,” Graf said.

Born in northern Holland, Boersema emigrated to Canada in 1951 and armed with a BEd arrived in the Bulkley Valley in 1978 after spending some time on the Prairies.

Boersema took an interest in the local history after he settled in at the north end of Tyhee Lake on land originally settled by Tyhee David.

“I started doing esearch about his son Jean-Baptiste and that had me digging into things and getting more and more interested,” Boersema said.

Boersema attended a meeting of the Telkwa Museum board, and one thing led to another.

“The chairperson resigned and they needed another person,” Boersema said.

As for the recognition of his efforts with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Boersema said he was pleased but admitted the recognition was never motivation for his work at the museum.

“You just quietly do what needs to be done,” he said.

The recognition was made all the more meaningful for Boersema because two of his sisters also received Diamond Jubilee medals.

His older sister, Julie Lindhout, has made important contributions in the field of education and a younger sister, Theresa Bergsma, made important contributions in the field of agriculture.

Fuerst, 67, who left his hometown of Beausejour, Manitoba with nine dollars in his pocket when he was 15, has volunteered time, equipment and skills to several community projects around Telkwa.

“I can’t imagine the volunteer hours he’s put into the village,” Graf said.

“The community hall, the seniors’ hall, he’s always around.”

Owner of Barb’s Trucking, a busy excavation company, Fuerst said he couldn’t think of a better place to live.

“I’ve travelled to many other places and I haven’t found a better place than Telkwa,” Fuerst said.

“I’ve raised all my kids here, it’s been great.

“Volunteering is my way of giving back to the town, the people who have helped me build my business.”

As for the recognition, Fuerst was visibly touched.

“It was quite an honour, I appreciate it,” Fuerst said.

Henk Meerdink was nominated by the Village of Telkwa for his long time voluntary donation of time, skills, materials and equipment at various community projects for the benefit of the citizens of Telkwa.

Meerdink left Holland in 1949 at six weeks of age and was raised in the Lower Mainland.

He arrived in Telkwa in 1979 and set about establishing and nurturing West Fraser Concrete.

Many of those loads of concrete went into the construction of the new Bulkley Valley Kinsmen stage at the Telkwa BBQ grounds.

Like many volunteers, Meerdink said he never expected to be recognized for his contributions as he views it as his duty to his country and his community.

“I was flabbergasted,” Meerdink said.

“I am humbled by the recognition.”


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