Active Springbank resident hounoured
It was with complete surprise that Springbank’s Gloria Wilkinson met the news that she had been chosen as a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
She said receiving the honour from MP Ted Menzies on Sept. 4 was indescribable.
“It is so amazing,” said Wilkinson, 71. “I got the letter in the mail and thought, ‘Is this the right house?’”
Wilkinson has been an active member of the Springbank community for 33 years.
A farm girl from the Red Deer River valley, Wilkinson received her nursing diploma from the University of Alberta.
After marrying her sweetheart Ray an oilfield worker, Wilkinson practiced nursing all over the country, working from Regina to Toronto to up north with the Inuit.
Her husband’s last transfer brought the family to the Calgary region, where they chose to raise their family, which includes two children.
“We chose to live in the country, because we are country people, and we have spent the last 33 years fighting to keep it country,” said Wilkinson, who is retired.
Now a grandmother, Wilkinson stays active within her community and the greater region, putting in an average of about 50 hours each week into her many committees and volunteer commitments.
A former Rocky View County councillor who served three terms in the role from 1989 to 1998, Wilkinson now chairs several committees, including the Community Planning Association of Alberta.
She also sits on the Springbank Community Planning Association, which has been active since 1999 and teaches people how to give proper presentations to council.
Wilkinson has also worked tirelessly as an advocate of the environment. She spent 25 years volunteering on the committee that created the Elbow River Watershed Plan, working together with a team of scientists to write the plan.
She did the same work as an advocate of the Bow River, helping create the Bow River phase one and two watershed documents. During her time on these committees, Wilkinson garnered cooperation of many local governments, such as Rocky View County, the Municipal District (MD) of Foothills, the City of Calgary and the Provincial and Federal governments.
She said she was pleased with her work.
“It got the public aware that (the Elbow) is a very precious river, people realize they must look after it… there will be no more untreated water returned to (it),” she said.
Wilkinson, who co-owns a ranch in the MD of Foothills, currently sits on the Action for Agriculture Committee, a group that advocates for farmers and best management practices to keep people on the land.
She is also a member of both Rocky View County’s and the MD of Foothills’ Subdivision Appeal boards.
Wilkinson takes her experience in nursing into many of her volunteer commitments. She is a member of the Prairie Mountain Health Advisory Council, which garners input about the state of health care in the region and shares its findings and recommendations to Alberta Health Services.
She sits on the planning committee for the South Health Campus, Calgary’s newest hospital that is expected to be fully operational in late 2013.
Wilkinson said her extensive involvement in local government and service groups is the result of her passion for people.
“If you work inside the government route, you can actually make tiny little bits of difference to help people and people are my interest,” she said. “Whatever I can do to help make it somewhat better, that is what I do.”
Wilkinson said she plans to continue her community service for as long as she can.
“As long as the brain and the body are willing, I am going,” she said.
“It’s improving our rivers, improving how people are dealt with and treated that is my bottom line.”
The Diamond Jubilee Medal was created in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne.
The medal is being awarded to 60,000 Canadians this year to recognize and honour their outstanding achievements in volunteering and community service.