Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond, on behalf of Premier Christy Clark, today presented Judith Armstrong and Nick Marsden with the province’s newest honour, the Medal of Good Citizenship.
Launched in July 2015 by Premier Clark, the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship recognizes individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life. Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
Armstrong and Marsden, both Victoria residents, received the medal for their decades of dedication to British Columbians with developmental disabilities. They have helped create joy and life enhancing experiences for both people with disabilities and inspired hundreds of volunteers to work alongside with them.
The seeds of volunteerism began early with Armstrong when she assisted a Kiwanis-supported Oak Bay high school club that helped people with disabilities followed by work with the Easter Seal Camps. Observing that there were limited opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in events fuelled Armstrong to launch a large, annual track and field event in Victoria where every competitor is matched with a counsellor for the entire duration of the event. She then went on to found the Handicapped Recreation Society, again with a goal of increasing access for persons with disabilities.
Her volunteer contributions reach beyond the national borders as she serves on the board for the Canadian Foundation for the Children of Haiti which provides funds, materials and expertise to two orphanages, a home for children with disabilities, three schools and a hospital in Port au Prince. She regularly travels with a team to Haiti to deliver supplies to the Hope Home for young people with disabilities.
Marsden’s volunteerism extends to many arenas. He is part of an army of volunteers who band under the District of Saanich’s Pulling Together Volunteer Program to remove evasive plants and restore ecosystems, and for years he served on the Gordon Head Soccer Association board. For more than 15 years he has helped co-ordinate the annual Math Challengers Contest held at Camosun College, opening the door for participating students aged 13 to 15 to discover the wonder and fun of mathematics.
For more than 45 years, Armstrong and co-recipient Marsden have organized Operation Trackshoes, a volunteer-run sports festival geared towards British Columbians with developmental disabilities. Under their leadership, the festival has grown to become a highlight on the provincial calendar that welcomes some 500 competitors between the ages of six and 80. Operation Trackshoes fosters comradery among the participants, who look forward every year to a weekend of races, games, social activities and giving representation to their home communities. Approximately 600 volunteers, including counsellors, nurses and officials, work to make the event a success.
Armstrong takes charge of counsellor recruitment and competitor care for the event, while Marsden is the track and field administrator, ensuring events run smoothly by taking care of a myriad of details including writing the computer programs that assist the efficient scheduling of the hundreds of participants and recording their scores.
Armstrong and Marsden are among a select group of British Columbians who will receive the Medal of Good Citizenship. Previous recipients include: John Phare, a tree faller from Roberts Creek, who was posthumously honoured with the medal last fall after he was killed while fighting the Old Sechelt Mine fire in July 2015; and Joan LeMoine, a well-known Parksville citizen and community ambassador who has dedicated countless hours of volunteering at many organizations.
Premier Christy Clark –
“Judith Armstrong and Nick Marsden are real unsung heroes, having selflessly given their time and talents to causes that have made Victoria a better place. I can’t think of more deserving recipients of the Medal of Good Citizenship.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and chair of the Medal of Good Citizenship selection committee –
“Judith Armstrong and Nick Marsden have dedicated hours of their time, effort and skills to make their community better. This medal acknowledges their excellence, achievement and service. The time spent reviewing nominations was inspiring, and it reinforced to me that we live in a province where each and every day citizens can make a difference through their generosity and selflessness.”
Judith Armstrong, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient –
“When Operation Trackshoes first began so many years ago, I could not have imagined the life-long journey that it would become and I am so incredibly grateful for the blessing it has been in my life.”
Nick Marsden, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient –
“I was teaching Judith Armstrong mathematics at Camosun College in the early 70’s when she invited me to come to Operation Trackshoes for a look. I was so captivated by the family picnic-like atmosphere of the event that I decided to help out for a while. For a very long while, as it turned out. Young people beware. This could happen to you! Volunteering is pleasantly addicting.”
- The Medal of Good Citizenship was launched in 2015 to recognize individuals who, through exceptional long-term volunteer efforts, have made outstanding contributions to the well-being of their communities.
- Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
- All regions in the province were represented on the Medal of Good Citizenship selection committee and members came from various professional backgrounds.
- More than 220 nominations were reviewed.
- Additional medal presentation ceremonies will be held across the province in the coming months.
To learn more about the medal, or to nominate a good citizen in your community, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/medalofgoodcitizenship
To view photos of recipient ceremonies, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskw9MKjm
Previous Medal of Good Citizenship Recipients:
Joan LeMoine: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016IGR0003-000496