June 15th, 2024

Outstanding citizens honoured for dedication to community


By Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Bev Lanz, at left, Belinda Crowson, Laura Branner and Jacen Abrey were recipients of Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals at a ceremony honouring them on Thursday afternoon at the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association.

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Five city residents on Thursday were honoured with Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals.

The ceremony was staged by YWCA Lethbridge & District at the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association Centre.

Recipients included Belinda Crowson, Jacen Abrey, Jaime Vandenberg, Bev Lanz and Laura Branner.

Vandenberg wasn’t present for the ceremony and will be recognized in coming weeks when she returns to Canada for Christmas. Lanz is a previous medal recipient, having been honoured with a Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.

They were among 7,000 Albertans who receive the medals, which honour residents who have made significant contributions to Canada, Alberta, community or fellow citizens.

The ceremony attracted an appreciative audience who listened to a speaker discussing the reason why each recipient was deserving of the honour.

Jill Young, CEO of YWCA, told the people attending the investiture ceremony “today, we are gathered to pay tribute to those who have given of their time and talents in service to their communities, our province and our country.

“As you know, Alberta’s Platinum Jubilee Medal commemorates the 70th anniversary of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada upon the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952,” said Young.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey and was the first to be televised with 27 million people in the United Kingdom watching it, plus millions around the world.

“Her late Majesty expressed her wish that Jubilee events be an occasion for enjoying a sense of togetherness and optimism about the future which makes today the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people who make our community better.

“It also serves as a tribute to the example set by Her late Majesty throughout her extraordinary lifetime. Today’s medal recipients lead rather than wait to be led. They tackle challenges head-on. They see problems as opportunities instead of obstacles,” said Young.

Deputy mayor Ryan Parker also addressed the crowd, Parker being among several dignitaries present including councillor John Middleton-Hope, deputy chief of police Gerald Grobmeier and Inspector Russell Lawrence who awarded the medals.

Here is a brief look at the winners as provided by the YWCA:

Belinda Crowson (whose Niitsitapi name is A’okiwennowa or Seen by All) is a Lethbridge City Councillor, president of the Lethbridge Historical Society, secretary of the Historical Society of Alberta, author, local historian, tour guide and community advocate. She studies history as a way of building a better future for everyone (and also because it is such great fun!) and does what she can to support and build her community.

Jacen Abrey has been in the health care – first responder – firefighter profession for over 38 years, he has worked extensively with the Indigenous communities throughout his career, drawing a true passion to those in vulnerable situations.

Jacen has extensive background in municipal, provincial and federal government. He has dedicated and committed himself to serving as a town councillor in Coaldale in this, being his third term on council. Jacen serves all with the values he lives by – honesty, transparency and integrity.

Laura Branner has held many roles, both as a volunteer and as a professional. Laura has been an educator, counsellor, program coordinator and community developer. Laura has worked with people who were dying, grieving, experiencing mental health and addictions challenges, as well as people with disabilities. She has also assisted those with literacy issues, immigration issues, and those learning English.

She has worked with young children, youth, young pregnant teens, people experiencing domestic violence and other traumas, parents, those looking for employment, seniors and the elderly, people from many different cultures and traditions and different economic situations.

She is passionate about helping to create programs that will have long-term benefits and will remain in our community for the long term.

Bev Lanz is a true volunteer at heart and has been involved with many organizations in the Community. She is a active member of the Lethbridge Rotary Club of Lethbridge East, serving as club president, as well as serving on the Boards of Hearts of Our City and the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone where she served two terms as president on each board. Bev has been a member of the University of Lethbridge Senate and was honoured to receive the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012. A true leader, Bev has never failed to put in anything less than her best efforts and by her example, has inspired those around her to do the same.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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