Three Niverville residents receive Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals

Three Niverville residents were bestowed Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals this month. A ceremony to recognize them, along with other recipients from the Provencher riding, was held at the Mennonite Heritage Village on January 18.

Officiating the ceremony, MP Ted Falk presented awards to 46 residents of Provencher. The Niverville honourees included Annette Fast, Elaine Krahn, and Darryl Rempel. Rempel was the only one among the Niverville recipients able to attend the ceremony.

One thousand Manitobans have been selected from among thousands of nominees to receive this prestigious honour between February 2022 and January 2023, the year that marked Queen Elizabeth II’s seventieth year since her accession to the throne before her death in September.

Those nominated were individuals who have made significant contributions to their province, with a strong focus on community-mindedness, service, and reconciliation.

All honourees have been presented with a commemorative lapel pin created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, as well as a commemorative medal designed for the occasion by Members of Parliament.

“It’s an honour for me to be in the room with so many extraordinary people from our communities,” Falk told attendees of the presentation ceremony. “Many of you are in public service. Many of you are community builders… Each one of you is an example of what ordinary citizens can do when they serve others. What is perhaps the most extraordinary of all is the fact that, like Queen Elizabeth, those here consider their achievements to not be extraordinary [at all].”

Falk shared a brief bio of each recipient, outlining the reasons they’d been first nominated and then selected.

Darryl Rempel was recognized for his many years of community involvement in his hometown, whether in church, in schools, or at events like the local fair. Over the years, he’s served as coach, president, and volunteer on local sports teams and the Niverville Recreation Committee.

One of Elaine Krahn’s most recognized accomplishments was the key role she played in resurrecting the defunct Niverville fair in the mid-1990s. Her leadership on the fair committee for the proceeding 25 years was instrumental in making the Olde Tyme Country Fair what it is today.

Krahn has also passionately invested in coordinating an annual Remembrance Day service that draws hundreds of veterans and attendees every year.

As a result of her passion for both gardening and people, Annette Fast is best known to Niverville residents as one of the chief organizers of the local Gardeners Club as well as the Niverville chapter of Communities in Bloom. Each summer, she also tends to the garden boxes at the elementary school.

Amidst all of that, Fast still finds time to put in some important volunteer hours with the Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Winnipeg.

As a tribute to the late Queen of England, on behalf of whom the awards were created, Falk paid homage to Elizabeth’s early years.

While 70 years as a reigning monarch is in itself extraordinary, Falk said, much of her strength of character was developed well before she assumed the crown.

It began with a child who was unexpectedly thrust into the position of heiress to the throne when her paternal uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated after just one year.

Elizabeth’s father naturally assumed the crown, putting Elizabeth next in line at the tender age of ten. Despite her new status, the 13-year-old Elizabeth joined the ranks of millions of other children who were evacuated from the city of London during the Second World War.

“Like other children, she was separated from her parents who, out of solidarity with their people, chose to stay in London,” Falk said. “The young Elizabeth did her part for the war effort. She made solidarity broadcasts on the radio to try and comfort her fellow evacuees. And she planted and tended a garden on the grounds of Windsor Castle as part of a national campaign to help with Britain’s food shortage.”

By 18, Elizabeth had insisted on joining the women’s branch of the military. Her father ensured that she receive no special rank or treatment and that she start at the bottom of the ranks.

It was here that she received training and certification as an auto mechanic, working on military vehicles during the war. The British media lovingly dubbed her “Princess Auto Mechanic.”

“The fact that she ended the war with a ranking equivalent to captain should tell us something about the work ethic and abilities of what would become Queen Elizabeth,” Falk said.

In these formative years, Falk says, Elizabeth developed an ethic of hard work and was committed to the betterment of others—and more than 70 years later, Queen Elizabeth’s legacy carries on through the life of regular Manitobans who have lived by the same ideals.

In December 2022, four other Niverville residents were presented with the prestigious award by MLA Ron Schuler: Mayor Myron Dyck, Gordon Daman, Shirley Hoult, and Libby Hanna.

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen