Kris Patterson of Port Alberni is one of 19 people in British Columbia to be awarded a Medal of Good Citizenship from the provincial government.
When he received the call from Victoria last week, Patterson said he thought it was a scam. “(The caller) knew a lot about me. She wanted to confirm information was correct,” he said. “Her number was blocked and she called me at work.
“I had never heard of the medal, to be honest.”
Launched in 2015, the 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, according to the selection committee, reflects recipients’ generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life.
Patterson has been a long-standing volunteer in well over a dozen organizations in Port Alberni, and has been volunteering constantly for the past 25 years. He has helped raise more than $1 million for literacy through the Raise a Reader campaign with Literacy Alberni; worked with Canada Day celebrations; Junior A hockey; Port Alberni Non-Profit Housing; Compassionate Friends Organization; Alberni Valley Museum; Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce; Dragon Boat Society; Community Arts Council; Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley; ACRD solid waste planning committee and Alberni Valley Hospice Society, to name a few.
Patterson said there is a simple reason why he gives his time for non-profit organizations. “I love Port Alberni,” he said.
“I make sure I can do whatever I can to give back to it. I had pretty good examples to follow,” he added.
Patterson’s late parents, Ike and Linda Patterson, were both big volunteers in the community. Ike was a radio and newspaperman, working at CJAV Radio, now 93.3 PEAK FM, as well as The Pennyworth. He wrote the iconic This Was Then column, and was a popular city councillor when he died suddenly in May 2011. Linda Patterson was the publisher at the AV Times when she died in September 2010. She had been involved in countless volunteer positions throughout her career as well.
Kris Patterson was surprised that he was chosen for the Medal of Good Citizenship. “It’s a little bit overwhelming,” he admitted, “because in Port Alberni I could tell you 50 people who probably deserve this more.
“Everybody says we shouldn’t use (the saying) ‘community with a heart’ because it’s overused. I don’t think it is. There are a lot of people who do things to give back in Port Alberni.”
Patterson related a story from his time with Port Alberni Non-Profit Housing, which was supposed to be a three-weekend commitment. “I volunteered with them for a year and a half on my weekends. I had a lot of fun with everything,” he said.
He once helped renovate a home for a man whose illness relegated him to a wheelchair; the man needed better accessibility to his home. “The first time we poured those sidewalks so he could get out of his house, he cried,” Patterson said.
“It was worth giving up all my weekends for a year and a half to see that.”
Patterson has a passion for local history and that has contributed to his community service. He has written nine books ranging from historical collections of his late father’s columns to a grief and loss book following the death of his infant daughter in the early 2000s. Patterson just released his ninth book, This is Then, With Kris—a collection of historical columns he wrote for the now-defunct AV Times and a quarterly lifestyle magazine in Port Alberni.
He donates all the proceeds from his books.
Patterson said he doesn’t know who nominated him for the medal.
Patterson, 42, was a finalist for four years in a row for the Top 20 under 40. He works at Pacific Chevrolet.
“Everyone receiving medals today embodies the best qualities of being a British Columbian,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and chair of the medal’s selection committee.
“All of us on the selection committee were impressed by the generosity, compassion and sacrifice each and every one of the recipients has demonstrated. Congratulations to all honourees.”
The other 18 people who also received the award are from around B.C.: Selen Alpay of Prince George; Alberta (Wadzeed) Billy of Quathiaski Cove; Joan (Bays) Blackhall (posthumous), Langley; Suzanne Bolton, Vancouver; Edward Dickins, Kelowna; Stephanie Fischer, Nelson; Fran Fowler, Queen Charlotte; Joyce H. Fraser, Princeton; Ronald Allen Greene, Oak Bay; Michael O. Langridge, Saanich; Beth, Brandon and Darren Laur, all of Langford; Peggy Lee, Vancouver; Stan McCarthy, 150 Mile House; Lois Nahirney, North Vancouver; Shawna Narayan, Surrey; and Sylvie (Silvakantie) Pather, North Vancouver.
This year’s recipients were selection from more than 100 nominations. In addition to the Medal of Good Citizenship, individuals may be nominated for the Order of British Columbia, which recognizes people who have served with distinction, excelled in any particular field and benefited British Columbians.
Patterson wasn’t able to attend a ceremony on Dec. 4 to receive his medal, but says he will travel to Victoria in January.