There are many resources across the globe we hold valuable.
There is none any greater than our seniors and all they bring and have done to make our lives better through the contributions they have made on behalf of all of us.
Those contributions were celebrated worldwide Monday, as Oct. 1 is the International Day of Older Persons.
Those accomplishments are celebrated provincially through the annual Seniors of Distinction Awards hosted by the Children, Seniors and Social Development department in conjunction with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador celebration of National Seniors Day at the Capital Hotel in St. John’s on Monday.
The awards program was designed to identify and celebrate the contributions, achievements and diversity of older persons throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development Lisa Dempster was on hand to make the presentations to the 2018 winners than includes Harrison Campbell of Pinsent’s Arm, Catherine M. Williams Kleinwort of Spaniard’s Bay, Yamuna Kutty of St. John’s, Zita Muise of South Branch and Capt. Joseph Prim of St. Johns.
“The older adults of our province make incredible contributions that enrich the lives of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” Dempster said.
“I feel tremendously honoured to have been given the opportunity to recognize these five deserving individuals, who have set an admirable example for all of us to follow,” she added.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the basis for the provincial awards, turns 70 this year and the International Day for Older Persons celebrates the importance of the declaration as it serves to reaffirm the commitment of promoting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons.
Monday’s event serves to raise the visibility of the seniors across this province who have been and continue to be valuable and committed members of society who set out to make a difference in all our lives.
This may come with challenges, but they forge through the rough waters to ensure the rights and freedoms this country was founded on are upheld.
“Our government appreciates the commitment, dedication and service of seniors who distinguish themselves by giving of their time and talents to enrich our communities,’’ Premier Dwight Ball said in a news release Monday.
“These five individuals represent the best that our province has to offer, and we owe them, and all who volunteer in our communities, a debt of sincere gratitude,” he added.
The following are brief profiles of the 2018 recipients of the 2018 Seniors of Distinction Awards:
Harrison Campbell was born in the tiny community of Pinsent’s Arm in 1950 where he grew up and made a home for his family. Harrison is most certainly a family man, wanting the best for his family and always concerned for their safety. For more than 50 years, Campbell has been making a living working as a fisherman, catching many different species of fish in the summer, including crab, whelk, herring, and cod. He has passed his traditional skills and knowledge on to many others including his two sons and young grandson. The sea and fishing industry has always been a passion of his and in the past few years he has joined the NunatuKavut Governing Council as a senior member and has been catching salmon and codfish to supply the senior community. This council represents the territory of the southern Inuit people of Labrador. Campbell has always been a big volunteer in his area, serving on many associations and committees to help better his surrounding communities. These committees date back as far as 1972 when he was a member on the East Shore Development Association. He also served on the Labrador Development Association, Fishermen’s Committee, Canadian Rangers, and Local Service District which he has been the chair for the past 20 years. He continues to volunteer his time helping out fishermen by working on the Small Crafts Harbour Authority and he has been the director on the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company for the past 30 years. He is also a past recipient of both the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Golden Jubilee Medal and more recently he was awarded with the Labradorians of Distinction Medal. Campbell is well-known across Labrador and he enjoys spending his time volunteering and helping out anyone and anywhere he can.
Catherine M. Williams Kleinwort
Born in St. John’s in 1940, she moved to Ontario in 1959. She returned to her home province and in particular to Spaniard’s Bay in 2001 and quickly became a well-known volunteer in the community, serving on a number of permanent committees and implementing new ones. She is volunteer chair of the Spaniard’s Bay Environment Committee and, as such, has been instrumental in obtaining funding for three new community parks and beautification projects. Since 2002, She has been the chairperson of the Joint Management Committee Inc. which has custodial responsibility for the shared wetlands of the Shearstown Estuary between Spaniard’s Bay and Bay Roberts. As a member of the Mariner Resource Opportunities Network, she was a team player in establishing the Baccalieu Trail Seniors’ Outreach Satellite Office in Spaniard’s Bay, setting up a walk-in office for seniors and obtaining funding for staffing and programs. Williams Kleinwort has extensive volunteer experience spanning the period from 1965 to 2000 in Ontario and has demonstrated a commitment to enriching the lives of citizens and visitors in her adopted community of Spaniard’s Bay.
Born in 1938 in the Indian state of Hyderabad, Kutty arrived in St. John’s with her husband and young son in 1968. She began her volunteer career more than 45 years ago by assisting at her daughter’s school and volunteering with UNICEF. Since 2006, Kutty has served on the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women and she is the vice-president of the Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador (MWONL). She has been a volunteer member of MWONL for 22 years. Yamuna has also contributed her time and knowledge to the Wellness Coalition Avalon East, the Violence Prevention Avalon East group, the St. John’s Status of Women Council, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada, YWCA and SeniorsNL, among many others. Her personal motto, derived by a quote from Ghandi, is: “In life is to be the change you expect to see in the world.” In 2015, she wrote an article entitled “My Canadian Life: Recalling Some Memories”, which was featured in a book, “Resilience and Triumph: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories.” She lost her beloved husband in 2011, but is grateful to have her two wonderful children.
South Branch (Codroy Valley)
Zita Muise was born in South Branch in 1935. She started her life-long litany of volunteer work at her church as a child, and began her teaching career in that community at the age of 17. Shortly after her marriage in 1955, she left work to start a family, and raised 12 children while continuing to volunteer her time with the Altar Society, South Branch Recreation Committee, Codroy Valley Co-op and Credit Union, the Codroy Valley Area Development Association, and many others. From 197-82, Muise lived with her family in Cormack, where she both returned to the work force and served on the Humber Valley Development Association, the Cormack Library Board, and others. She is an avid square dancer, continuing to organize the square dancing activities for both the Winter Carnival and the Codroy Valley Folk Festival. She is a strong advocate of learning new things, having taken up the accordion and teaching herself to play in her late 70s. She keeps physically fit with bicycling, walking and square dancing.
Capt. Joseph Prim
Born in 1927, Capt. Joseph Prim joined the British Merchant Marine at the age of 16, beginning what would become a lifetime of work in the marine industry in various capacities. Prim served for two years on the North Atlantic during the Second World War and spent 10 years as a ship’s master running to Labrador with fishermen and supplies for coastal communities. He also served as captain of numerous vessels and his career culminated in the position of the last Marine Coastal Superintendent for Newfoundland and Labrador with Marine Atlantic. After his retirement, he focused on volunteer efforts, particularly in areas which contribute to the preservation of the province’s marine history, more specifically the contribution of the 333 Newfoundland and Labrador men and women who lost their lives as Merchant Mariners. He co-chaired a committee to design, raise funding for, and complete a monument to the Merchant Marine Navy in 1997. The Merchant Navy Memorial, developed with the late Fred Adams and Paul Johnson, is located at the Marine Institute and displays the names of those 333 Newfoundland merchant seamen and 435 Navy ratings who lost their lives during the Second World War. Prim is also involved with the Kiwanis Club, the Coastal Railway Museum and is the director of the CN Pensioners Association. Along with the late Michael McCarthy, he is the co-author of three books about the province’s maritime history intended to preserve our seafaring heritage, and has done a great deal of research to document shipwrecks along the East coast of the province and preserve this information in map format.
— With files from the Newfoundland and Labrador department of Children, Seniors and Social Development