The call out for applicants for the 16th Annual Pioneer of the Year Award read as follows: “The Museum is once again seeking nominations for the Pioneer of the Year Award. In keeping with this year’s theme, Civic Pride, this person should have distinguished him/herself as a community volunteer past & present in various activities that have helped to celebrate, progress, and distinguish our wonderful city and county.”
“This year we chose to add an exciting new twist by honouring two pioneers, Mervyn and Lorraine Arnold”, explains Sylvia Larsen, founder and dedicated volunteer of the Museum. “The Arnolds are an amazingly humble couple who have dedicated a great many hours and days of their time volunteering to help make Wetaskiwin and Maskwacis communities that we are proud of.”
Citizens of the community nominate individuals, and the nominations pass by a jury selected by the Museum Board. The winner is in the annual Pioneer Days parade, has his/her name inscribed on the “Pioneer of the Year” trophy, and receives a personal plaque to take home for display.
Larsen provides some background about the Arnolds. “Mervyn and Lorraine Arnold have put every effort into making our city a beautiful place to live in. Mervyn was one of the first members and volunteers for the effort to beautify Wetaskiwin with Communities in Bloom when it began in 1999. He was dedicated to the program until its dissolution in 2011. Over the years, Communities in Bloom addressed many issues within our city, including environmental concerns, heritage preservation, forestry, cleanliness, and volunteerism.
They have been married for an astounding 56 years. The two of them resided on a farm beside the Samson and Ermineskin Reserves at Maskwacis for 34 years, during which time they raised four children: Mark, Jonathan, Marie, and Kerry. After 34 years of farming, Mervyn and Lorraine moved to Wetaskiwin where they continue to be exemplary models of community volunteers helping to make our community a better place to live.”
Summer student employees and members of the Pioneer of the Year Award committee share this description. “It is really great to see such dedicated and selfless people making a difference in Wetaskiwin”, declared Lucas Chambers, Museum Assistant. They are perfect examples of Civic Pride, and I have really come to see them as role models for all of Wetaskiwin. I know that they have inspired me.” Summer student, Christina Hovde, Programs Coordinator affirmed, “It’s inspiring to see senior citizens still so strongly involved in not only the Wetaskiwin community, but the Maskwacis community as well. Merv and Lorraine are an incredible couple.”
Both Mervyn and Lorraine have been instrumental in ensuring the success of many charitable causes in the Wetaskiwin region. But in the end when asked what he is especially proud of, Mervyn responded, “Raising our children to be useful citizens”. Lorraine feels her greatest achievement was bringing about positive changes in many lives over the 20 years she taught aboriginal adults.
The 2014 Pioneer of the Year Award will be presented to Mervyn and Lorraine at the Pioneer of the Year Ceremony on Friday, June 13th at 7:00 pm. The evening will also include a presentation on “Main Street, Old & New” including historical photos from the Museum and City of Wetaskiwin archives.
On Saturday, June 14 at 1:30 pm the Museum will host a Pioneer Day ceremony that will honour other community volunteers who have made contributions to the advancement and beautification of the City and County. All of the volunteers are nominated by their peers, and will be presented with a certificate of appreciation.
Also on display at the Museum during the weekend of Summer Showcase and until June 21, will be artwork submitted by students in two categories: grades 1-3 and grades 4-6. The original artwork, showcasing favourite aspects of the new Main Street will also be posted on the Museum’s Facebook page.