The East Kootenay celebrated the giving, dedicated members of their communities at the third annual Game Changer Awards, held Saturday, Sept. 22, at st. Eugene Mission Resort.
Hosted by MC Matt Van Boeyen, and sponsored by local media — Black Press, E-Know, and the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, awards were handed out in 14 categories, covering the full range of involvement that makes life better for all residents.
Each award was sponsored by a local business, making the gala evening a real community event.
Following is a list of each award and award winner, with a short precis on what they do.
Youth (Sponsored Sandor Rental Equipment)
As Area Director for Young Life in the Kootenays, Ben Fraser and his team provide a safe space for youth to gather, have fun, develop meaningful relationships, and explore their faith through the opportunity to attend summer camp. Working with teens is not easy, but Ben makes it look easy.
[Also nominated” The MBSS Warriors Leadership Group, Charlotte Butt, Taelyn Austin]
Family (Sponsored by New Dawn)
Aileen Wilson started Paying it Forward – Kindness in the Kootenays in Cranbrook that has blossomed into a huge group that reaches families all over the Kootenays. She is disabled, yet still manages to help those in need, working tirelessly and fundraising to ensure that children, adults, seniors and pets are taken care of. She works to make our community a better place, and has spread a lot of kindness over the years.
[Also nominated: Jane Blackmore, the Schick family, BPC Community First Society]
Seniors (OK Tire)
Laurie Harris’s tireless efforts with Cranbrook Better At Home, helps seniors who need a helping hand to remain independent at home and stay connected to their community. She always makes herself available to people whatever their need may be, and her kind words and empathy have helped comfort many people in their time of need.
[Also nominated: Vivian Moe, Melanie Kozinuk]
Health and Wellness (Peak Family Dental Centre)
Shenoa Runge has a passion for promoting health and wellness in the East Kootenay. At Creekside Physiotherapy Clinic she puts that passion and dedication into helping everyone of her clients. She is a kinesiologist, but also has training in cardiovascular health, advanced functional movement screening and health and fitness certification and promotion. She exemplifies her passion for wellness by maintaining a healthy lifestyle herself.
[Also nominated: Abi and Mike Moore, Brad Robison, Livia Lara]
Education (Leanne M Goddard Chartered Professional Accountant)
Following a long, successful teaching career, Frank Lento serves as advocate for education in the region, as Chair of the School District 5 Board of Trustees. Among his many community initiatives, Frank has championed the building of the new high school in Fernie, is the driving force behind getting a new elementary school in Fernie, and is responsible for the funding of and construction of playgrounds at a number of Elk Valley schools.
[Also nominated: Jayme Farnan, Danielle Gibson, Amore Tolfree]
Protective Services (Pacific Coastal Airlines)
Tammy Pocha is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable adult population in Cranbrook. Through her work with Street Angel, she provides safe, supported and non-judgemental services to anyone who walks through the door. She works to ensure everyone gets support, and advocates for their well-being, volunteering countless hours to overcome barriers, challenges or delays.
[Also nominated: Cst. Erin Stevenson, Blaze Dobson]
Food and Agriculture (Cranbrook Flooring]
Nicole Knauf/Fernie Fresh Food Share
Nicole Knauf grew up learning to waste as little as possible, but working in restaurants, she saw a lot of good food thrown out and headed for the landfill. She was inspired to start Fernie Fresh Food Share, and local restaurateurs see what an incredible amount of work it is and what a great program it is for the community.
[Also nominated: Jessy and Rhianna Embury, Sophie Larsen, Jill Bentley Lobban]
Arts and Culture (?aq’am First Nation)
As President of the Fisher Peak Performing Artists Society, James Neve has led a team of directors to bring the performing arts in Cranbrook and area to a new level. Under his leadership, FPPAS has developed the Summer Sounds concert series, helping local performers of all ages and persuasions showcase and develop their talents, enriching community culture and tourism potential.
[Also nominated: Cranbrook Multicultural Society, Cranbrook Community Theatre, Natalie Skokan]
First Nations (Teck Coal Ltd)
Bonnie Harvey has for years shared Ktunaxa culture through her story-telling, her cooking, and by always helping people from all walks of life to celebrate and laugh. Her unique delivery removes that wall of uncertainty so everyone feels welcome, and excited to try their first Ktunaxa word, listen to legends, or eat her famous fried bread.
[Also nominated: Deb Whitehead, Street Angels, Patricia Gilhuily]
Outdoors and Environment (Tipi Mountain)
As an outdoor educator for Blue Lake Camp, Wild BC, and Columbia Outdoor School, Todd Hebert has developed programming on water, soil, wildlife, snow, outdoor recreation and much more. His years of service have provided so much value to the outdoor education community, and the thousands of children who have been in his education programs.
[Also nominated” Rocke Robertson, Outdoor Connections, Skookum Adventures]
Sports and Recreation (Isaac Hockley Real Estate)
Melanie and Rick McFarlane
Melanie and Rick developed and have dedicated their time to the We Bike Cycling Program. The program would not be able to educate Grade 4 students in learning how to cycle without the entire We Bike team, but in particular Melanie and Rick. These two have dedicated their time to this program that builds skills in a fun and safe learning environment.
[Also nominated: Key City Gymnastics, Mike Robinson, Shonna Murphy]
Tourism (The HeidOut)
Mike McPhee has always been a great advocate of the Fernie lifestyle. He has taken Island Lake Lodge to new heights, creating positive moral for his staff, and has won multiple marketing and community tourism awards along the way. He sits on several marketing committees and boards, including Destination BC.
[Also nominated: Jikke Gyorki, George Freitag, Michelle Forbes]
Unsung Hero (Columbia Basin Trust)
Cindy Postnikoff has brought awareness of the valour of our veterans to the forefront, and helped to honor and improve their lives through the development of the Military Ames program, the Quilts of Honour program and the new Veterans Park in Kimberley. She also coordinates a program for veterans suffering from PTSD and other issues.
(Also nominated: Dave Miller, Josh Aldrich, Allan Watson]
Lifetime Achievement Rachelle Langlois – Sun Life Financial
Since moving to Invermere in 1989 to start working at Invermere Home Hardware (and purchasing it in 1993), community involvement and Al Miller have become synonymous in the Columbia Valley. He volunteers in some way at almost every event between Canal Flats and Golden, sitting on various boards in the area, as well as Invermere Council.
[Also nominated” Corette Harrington, Karin Penner, Kim Lutz]
At top: Al Miller (left) was awarded the Game Changer Award for Lifetime Achievement at the awards ceremonies held Saturday, Sept. 22, at St. Eugene Mission Resort. Cindy Postnikoff (right) took the UnSung Hero Award. Barry Coulter photos
Photos below: Top to bottom: Ben Fraser of Young Life; Ben Fraser with Mark Salvador of Sandor Rentals; Aileen Wilson with Leanne Jensen of New Dawn; Laurie Harris with Ron Popoff, presenting on behalf of OK Tire; Shenoa Runge; Shenoa Runge with John Nesbitt of Peak Family Dental Centre; Frank Lento on stage; Frank Lento at podium; Frank Lento with Leanne M Goddard, Chartered Professional Accountant; Tammy Pocha, with Jenelle Heinz of Pacific Coastal Airlines; Nicole Knauf of Fernie Fresh Food Share, with Clint Eaton of Cranbrook Flooring; James Neve at podium; James Neve with ?aq’am First Nation Chief Joe Pierre; Bonnie Harvey; Bonnie Harvey with Norm Fraser of Teck Coal Ltd.; Todd Hebert; Todd Hebert with Lindsay Neill, Tipi Mountain Eco-Cultural Services; Melanie and Rick McFarlane; Melanie and Rick McFarlane with Isaac and Gabrielle Hockley; Mike McPhee; Mike McPhee with Heidi Romich of the HeidOut; Cindy Postnikoff; Cindy Postnikoff with Kaylyn Gervais, Columbia Basin Trust; Al Miller presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rachelle Langlois; Al Miller with Rachelle Langlois – Sun Life Financial. Barry Coulter photos