Cranbrook Councillor Norma Blissett presents trails volunteer Al Skucas with the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers, on behalf of David Johnson, Governor General of Canada, at the newly named Chief Isadore Trail, Wednesday, June 21.

Cranbrook Councillor Norma Blissett presents trails volunteer Al Skucas with the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers, on behalf of David Johnson, Governor General of Canada, at the newly named Chief Isadore Trail, Wednesday, June 21.

Ceremonies on the Chief Isadore Trail

Al Skucas presented with Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Barry Coulter

A new trail near Cranbrook — part of a national trail network — was celebrated early Wednesday morning, with a special naming ceremony. Later Wednesday, one of the key people behind the creation of the trail was recognized with a special honour from the Canadian government.

The newly completed Cranbrook to Warder leg of the TransCanada Trail was ceremonially opened on Wednesday, June 21 — National Aboriginal Day — by members of the Ktunaxa Nation, TransCanada Trail Board of Directors, and local volunteers instrumental in making the trail project a reality.

The Cranbrook to Wardner trail will henceforth be known as the Chief Isadore Trail, after the Chief who led the Ktunaxa through a time of great change towards the end of the 19th century.

The TransCanada Trail, now being promoted as “The Great Trail,” is the world’s longest network of recreational trails. When fully connected, the Trail will stretch 24,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans.

“It’s pretty incredible when you think about it,” said former Ktunaxa Chief Sophie Pierre afterwards. “We’re going to have this trail that eventually, when it’s all connected — because there are pieces of it all over the place — it’s like 24,000 kilometres of trail that goes from coast to coast to coast.

“And our own little piece here, from Cranbrook to Wardner, was opened this morning and it was opened with the name of Chief Isadore Trail, and I’m really, really happy about that.”

Later Wednesday, Al Skucas, a volunteer who has been instrumental in the establishment of the local trail network, was presented with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by Cranbrook Councillor Norma Blissett, at a ceremony near the trailhead at the edge of Cranbrook.

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields.

As an official Canadian honour, the Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. The Medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

“This award is being presented to Mr. Al Skucas, for his work on both Trails BC and the North Star Rails to Trails,” said Coun. Blissett. “Under his direction the Cranbrook to Wardner destination trail was realized and a 26-kilometre stretch was added to the TransCanada Trail.”

Blissett then read to letter to Skucas from Governor General David Johnston.

“Volunteers like you are fundamental to the well-being of our country, reflecting the rich diversity of Canada’s people and the many talents and interests which enrich our society,” Johnston wrote.

“What they have in common is the support they provide to their communities at the grassroots level, and the positive impact they have on the lives of others, helping to make our neighbourhoods and our nation stronger.”

Skucas said he was accepting the medal as a team award, on behalf of the many volunteers who’d worked together on the project.

“… To have an opportunity to have a vision for something here, and to actually realize that vision, I think that’s incredible that you can do that in one lifetime. That vision can’t not include a lot of other people, so I have to acknowledge them.”