Community builders honoured with awards

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Cochranites gave a standing ovation to Anita Wildman when she took the stage at the Cochrane Community Awards on Sunday to accept the Pathfinder of the Year award on behalf of her late husband, Cody Wildman.

Described as a “true bridge builder, cultural ambassador, and passionate advocate for First Nation youth” Cody was known for his work with Cochrane and Morley. He worked tirelessly to bring a greater awareness to First Nation issues and strengthen ties in both communities.

“The bruise on my heart is still fresh,” Anita told the crowd as she accepted the award on May 28.

Anita shared stories about Cody’s last days in the hospital as he fought congestive heart failure. One story that imparted a lesson of humility and charity stood out.

The recent widow remembered a day when another woman visiting her husband in the hospital made a comment about how she liked Cody’s traditional blanket. From a culture that is not supposed to place value on material items, Cody convinced Anita to give the woman her favourite traditional pink blanket that previously “no one was allowed to touch.”

“He was always teaching everyone and even me,” Anita said through tears.

Lyle Cody Wildman Sukthi (Yellow Horse) died earlier this year on April 15.

“Cody’s footprints remain in the heart of the community,” said presenter Valerie McCracken, co-chair of the awards committee.

Twelve more awards were handed out over the afternoon ceremony at the Cochrane RancheHouse.

Citizen of the Year

Nominated as someone who inspires others in the community by his “dedication and passion,” Rev. Ray Goodship humbly accepted his Citizen of the Year award. He told the crowd “a good community is hard to come by” and he was fortunate to have found Cochrane, saying the town is a “special place.”

Ambassador of the Year

Dr. Bill Hanlon was also humble in his acceptance speech as he accepted the Ambassador of the Year award. He was nominated for his work with his non-profit organization that focuses on providing medical assistance in remote areas of the world. Hanlon was described as the demonstration of “how one individual can make a huge difference in the lives of many.”

Newsmaker of the Year

Representing an organization that had the most influence on the news in the last year, the Cochrane Lions Cub was presented with the Newsmaker of the Year award as president Darren Begg asked for the continued support from the community.

Community Builder of the Year

“More than just a thrift store” Cochrane Home Treasures was awarded with Community Builder of the Year award. The store donated more than $65,000 last year and is on track to give approximately $100,000 through various charities.

“Keep your treasures coming and we will be around for a long time,” said Barb Primeau, spokesperson for the store.

Education Initiative of the Year

Developed for students who are at risk of being disengaged from school due to the anxiety they experience from social and academic pressures, the Cochrane Healing Arts Time (CHAT) program was recognized as the Education Initiative of the Year. Offering a safe environment for students, the program was nominated for giving the next generation the tool to develop communication skills, confidence, creativity, advocacy and resiliency.

Employer of the Year

Known for creating an environment of “commitment and passion for their staff,” Snap Dance Studios was awarded with Employer of the Year. Recipient Andrea Lympany said Cochrane is an “amazing community with amazing people.”

Senior of the Year

Described as an “amazing volunteer with a generous heart,” Terrance Haxton was awarded with Senior of the Year. “The community has been good to me and my family – I am blessed,” Haxton said during his acceptance speech.

Youth of the Year

With two awards in less than two month, Future Leader of Tomorrow nominee Kassidy Gerhardi was also awarded with the Youth of the Year award at the ceremony. Nominated for her “authentic and genuine desire to do great things in our community” the teen said she was “incredibly honoured” to be recognized.

Volunteer Group of the Year

“All you have to do is ask and chances are someone from the cadets will step in to help,” read the nomination for the Cochrane Cadets. Known for making a significant social impact and strengthening Cochrane, the Cadets were awarded with Volunteer Group of the Year.

Equity and Inclusion Champion of the Year

Promoting togetherness, the St. Andrew’s United Church Free Lunch Program was awarded with the Equity and Inclusion Champion of the Year. “All diversity is welcomed with a smile and without judgment. New friendships are formed through the discovery of common interested and everyone is accepted for who they are,” the nomination read.

Business of the Year

Recognized for giving back to the Cochrane Food Bank through donations from oil changes, Midas Cochrane was awarded with Business of the Year. The nomination read the oil change campaign was a “clear indication of their impact on and support of the Cochrane community.”

Order of Cochrane

While it was the last award presented, it was one of the most emotional presentations of the afternoon as Mayor Ivan Brooker wept through his speech about Susan Flowers who was awarded with the Order of Cochrane.

“She is an example of the best Cochrane can be,” Brooker said at the ceremony.

Known for “working behind the scenes” Flowers was acknowledged for her hard work with the town in assisting several non-profit foundations over the years and chairing boards for much-needed services in town such as the affordable housing project board.

Flower will be retiring this year with her last day Aug. 31.

“I am so lucky,” Flowers told the crowd.

“We are a team and a family.”

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