Maple Ridge Citizen of the Year finalists announced

One winner will be announced in each of three categories

Finalists for Citizen of the Year. (Maple Ridge Community Foundation/Special to The News)

Black and White is the theme for this years Maple Ridge Community Foundation annual fundraising dinner where three deserving citizens will be presented with Citizen of the Year awards.

Brian Brewer, who passed away on March 28, 2019, is a finalist for the Lifetime Achievement award.

He was nominated posthumously for his dedication to youth in sport whom he spent more than 60 years mentoring, teaching and supporting.

During the 1950’s Brewer was the manager for many school teams in high school. Upon graduation he became a sports reporter and then editor of the Haney Gazette. He was known throughout the community for his love of refereeing and umpiring of minor baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball.

He volunteered as chair for many school sports tournaments where he would manage the volunteers and work as scorekeeper and he served as president of the Maple Ridge Athletic Association for many years.

Karen Wakita is also nominated for Lifetime Achievement.

She is described by the foundation as a dedicated, quiet and unassuming person who works tirelessly year after year supporting her community.

Wakita, a dedicated nurse, is also a passionate advocate for seniors with dementia.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge COY award named in youth advocate’s memory

She currently serves on the Board for the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Senior’s Network and also volunteers as the Wellness Clinic coordinator for the Maple Ridge Seniors Centre and as a First Link facilitator for the Alzheimer Society.

Wakita has been instrumental in her support of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest, helping with administration and volunteer management.

And for 19 years she was a volunteer with the Cythera Thrift Store.

Most recently she began operating the Caregivers Cafe at Golden Ears United Church.

Deddy Geese rounds out the Lifetime Achievement finalists. Geese, owner of Hagen’s Travel downtown Maple Ridge and a Rotarian, is best known for this work coordinating the Maple Ridge Caribbean Festival throughout its 20-year duration. It was through the festival that he supported local artists, entertainers and business owners, putting the city on the map. And, Geese ensured partial proceeds from the festival went to local non-profits.

Peter Short is a finalist in the Teesha Sharma Memorial Under 40 award. He is being recognized for his support of local families whose children are battling cancer. He lost his own young daughter, Kira, in 2017 to poorly differentiated sarcoma.

READ MORE: Helping homeless youth a passion for Citizen of the Year

Each year Short organizes a family-friendly fundraising event on the anniversary of his daughter’s passing in addition to an ongoing bottle drive to support local cancer-stricken families. So far he has helped a total of four families from Maple Ridge with the proceeds. He is also a volunteer with many local non-profits.

Lifelong Maple Ridge resident Jennifer Baillie is another finalist for the Under 40 award. Baillie is a children’s programmer with City of Maple Ridge parks, rec and culture. This is the second nomination for Baillie. She was nominated last year as well.

Baillie is involved with many charities including Ridge Meadows Hospice, Music Heals, Help-Portrait and the local Puttin’ On The Glitz grad event. She co-chaired both the Athlete Participant Events for BC Summer Games and the Rotary Youth Impact Summit, and is currently the President of the Youth Centre Society.

Baillie has also led adult and youth volunteer work projects worldwide including Rwanda, India, Cambodia, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Tia Rodrigue is the third Under 40 finalist. Rodrigue began creating and selling face masks during the pandemic, donating the proceeds to Canadian Blood Services, in honour of her father. Her father urgently needed a heart and lung transplant but passed away in July. Rodrigue has risen above her own physical and emotional pain to become a source of support for others, after being the victim of three consecutive car accidents.

Thomas Haney Secondary student Anna Huber is up for Citizen of the Year in the Youth category. The Grade 10 student has achieved top academic marks and also partakes in junior council. She is an accomplished athlete in soccer and Taekwondo, winning the District Cup and the Allan Blair award for dedication and sportsmanship. Huber also has a first degree black-belt.

Huber was a finalist in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, that allowed her to donate $5,000 to a charity of her choice. She has been previously recognized by the City of Maple Ridge for her philanthropy and commitment to her community as the city’s 2019 Canada Day Youth Award recipient. She was also recognized as a community champion in our local leisure guide.

Huber regularly volunteers her time for Thomas Haney Secondary’s Eco-Action Team, culinary arts, Best Buddies program and at the Ridge Meadows Child Development Center.

Quinn Callander, another Youth nominee, has already been recognized on the Forbes: 8 under 18 list for using a 3D printer to create ear guards for frontline workers wearing masks. Since the inception of his project, it has been expanded to offer ear guards for those wearing turbans and hijabs and demand has gone international.

At 7-years he hosted a fundraising lemonade stand to help a young friend afford a much-needed surgery. The campaign raised more than $60,000, resulting in enough funds to support another child’s surgery as well.

The 13-year-old has volunteered for ARMS Rivers Day and salmon count, Arbour Day tree planting and he has cleaned up trash for Earth Day.

He has also worked with the Christmas Festival, volunteered at a local church kitchen, shovelled snow for seniors and helped the Seniors Society pack and load boxes for their annual food bank drive.

Emily Barker Voisine is the final nominee in the Youth category. In Grade 5 Voisine co-founded and co-facilitated an anti-bullying group at Maple Ridge Elementary. She received a humanitarian award and was recognized as a “Leader of Tomorrow” for her volunteerism, leadership, and work in raising awareness about Indigenous issues in the community.

At Westview Secondary Voisine was the wrestling team captain where she increased female wrestling membership by creating an environment that supported wrestlers of all genders. Voisine also volunteered for the school district’s annual Indigenous Ignite Youth camps.

In high school Voisine was a Link Crew Leader and also volunteered for non-profit organizations including the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Ridge Meadows Hospital through the VolunTEEN Program and Residential Care Recreation Volunteerism.

She has volunteered as an Indigenous student mentor, and participated in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls March. Voisine received both the SD42 Si:yam Cultural Leadership Award and the Aboriginal Award of Excellence award and was honoured by the Fraser Valley Indigenous Society for her work in mentoring Indigenous youth.

Emily received six scholarships and bursaries because of her community contributions. She currently attends Simon Fraser University.

This years annual fundraising dinner has been delayed to Oct. 24 and will be hosted virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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