Today, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond, on behalf of Premier Christy Clark, presented Paul and Terry Nichols, well-known Quesnel citizens, with the Province’s significant honour, the Medal of Good Citizenship.
The ceremony was held at the Hall of Honour in the B.C. Parliament Buildings.
Launched in July 2015 by Premier Christy 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.
The Nichols devote themselves to bringing awareness to the difficulties Canadian soldiers can face when they transition back into civilian life. They also have developed a program to help returning veterans overcome operational stress injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incurred from military deployments.
When Paul returned home from serving with the Canadian military on a United Nations Peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia, he came home to a wife, family and community who had little understanding of his experience as a contemporary veteran. There was also little understanding of PTSD and the important role that community plays in the wellness of their veterans.
During a chance meeting with a survivor of the siege of Sarajevo, Paul heard for the first time that his own contribution in the Balkans made a difference and was thanked for his part in a Canadian mission that had saved countless lives. Through this discussion he realized the power of a shared story.
The Nichols understood that their struggles and their story are very similar to hundreds of others across Canada. They believed they had the skills and experience to make a difference.
The Nichols operate a farm in the Quesnel area where Paul found therapy while taking long, solitary rides on his beloved horse Zoe. Terry, a therapeutic riding instructor, used horses for her own rehabilitation after a traumatic injury left her wheelchair bound for many months. Together they know first hand the healing power of horses. Knowing that thousands of soldiers return from combat zones with physical and mental injuries, they began to see a vision to bring awareness to the difficulties facing returning soldiers as they re-enter our communities.
In 2014, the Nichols formed the Communities for Veterans Foundation and set a plan into motion that would see Paul ride across Canada on horseback to collect and share stories and to raise awareness. On April 15, 2015, they started out from the Parliament Buildings in Victoria with a seven-person crew, eight horses and a route from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Along this route, after successfully completing an in-depth riding lesson with Terry, Canadian veterans were invited to join Paul on the ride through their own communities.
During the ride veterans interacted with the public and were encouraged to share their own stories and thoughts as they discussed the challenges that our veterans face. Eleven thousand kilometres and 211 days later, 363 veterans had ridden with Paul and hundreds more had taken part in Terry’s program. Thousands of veterans and tens of thousands of Canadians came out in support of the Nichols’ mission.
Back home, their veteran program operating on the farm gives veterans from across Canada tools to deal with PTSD and helps to build stronger relationships and families. The Nichols have reached out and invited the community to assist in running the program, as they believe that in order for our veterans to find support in communities, a societal shift in understanding and appreciation must happen; an investment in veterans will lead to stronger veterans and stronger communities.
The Nichols are among a select group of British Columbians who will receive the Medal of Good Citizenship in ceremonies over the next few months.
Premier Christy Clark –
“Paul and Terry Nichols have devoted themselves to making the world a better place, from peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, to rallying communities across Canada to understand and support our veterans when they come home.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, and chair of the Medal of Good Citizenship Selection Committee –
“The Nichols are an inspiring example of a couple who have used their personal experience to help soldiers reconnect with their families and friends while creating broader awareness about mental health and wellness. Our communities and families are stronger for their selfless efforts. Honouring them with the Medal of Good Citizenship is a small way to say thank you for making a difference.”
Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch –
“Paul and Terry Nichols have made a lasting impact on our community and in the lives of countless veterans. Through their ride across Canada and the Assisted Mindfulness program, they are helping bridge the gap between military and civilian cultures with education and awareness. They are helping communities in creating a solution that is more than just helping veterans. Community involvement provides additional tools as a support system for veterans to have a better chance of leading a meaningful life and contributing to their own communities.”
Paul Nichols, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient –
“The demons that are post-traumatic stress cannot live in the light and they drag their victims into dark places. It was recognition from a stranger for my own military service that changed my life. We want to give other veterans the same opportunity for connection in community where they can be brought into the light. Through this award we feel encouraged by British Columbians to carry on with our work.”
Terry Nichols, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient –
"What I have learned most from our experiences with our work in the last couple of years is that when our hearts can lead our work, our life becomes very fulfilling. I have also learned how easy it is to truly make a positive difference in the lives of others. It can be a simple as being a good listener, a smile, a hug. It is about being present in the moments of our life."
- 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.
- An independent selection committee reviews nominations and recommends recipients.
- All regions in the province were represented on the Medal of Good Citizenship Selection Committee and members came from various professional backgrounds.
To learn more about the medal, or to nominate a good citizen in your community, visit:
To view photos of recipient ceremonies, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskw9MKjm
Find out more about past recipients of the Medal of Good Citizenship: