As the community’s largest annual festival came to a close on Sunday, Ucluelet handed out its largest local accolades.
Ucluelet announced its Volunteer, Business and Citizen of the year awards as well as a brand-new Youth Citizen of the Year award during the Ukee Days closing ceremonies.
Jennifer Hoar received the Volunteer of the Year award and was announced by her nominator Courtney Johnson.
“I cannot say enough about the wonderful and giving nature of my friend Jennifer Hoar,” Johnson beamed to a large audience from the Ukee Days main stage adding that Hoar has shaved her head twice to raise money for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team.
“I have seen her donating or attending every fundraiser that Ucluelet has, just about. She is always supporting a cause or attending an event. And, she’s always humble about all of this. She never expects praise or attention…All she does, she does out of the kindness of her heart and because she truly loves this community.”
As Hoar received her honour, Ucluelet’s Manager of Parks and Recreation, and Ukee Days organizer, Abby Fortune told the Westerly News that Hoar was well-deserving of the accolade.
“Jen is amazing,” Fortune said. “Jen has been a non-stop big part of this community. She goes out of her way, never says no and always epitomizes what it means to be a citizen of the community.”
Hoar said she was shocked to hear her name announced for the honour.
“I am speechless and my friends have brought me to tears because they’re awfully sweet,” she said, adding that she helps whenever help is needed because, “That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s part of being a member of a community.”
Hoar moved to Ucluelet in 2004, but said she had been a frequent visitor to the area since she was three years old.
“I have a lot of history out here on the Coast,” she said. “I came here and I fell in love with it. I grew up on the West Coast and it’s in my soul. I’ve got seawater in my soul and beach sand between my toes and that makes me happy.”
She added she’s made many close friends in the community.
“We’ve all got each other’s backs and that’s what a small town does,” she said. “I love this town. It’s beautiful. The people are beautiful and it’s fun. It’s got a good vibe.”
The Citizen of the Year Award went to Alan Anderson.
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques heralded Anderson’s devotion to the community, particularly his work with the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade and Westcoast Community Resources Society.
“He puts in tireless hours on both of those positions,” St. Jacques said. “He loves this community…He’s really an amazing guy.”
Anderson was not in attendance to receive his award in person, but St. Jacques assured she would see him soon and “tell him how great he is.”
The Business of the Year Award was announced by Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce’s Office Manager Lara Kemps, who was delighted to announce Officials Sports Lounge as this year’s recipient.
“This business goes way beyond,” Kemps said adding Officials is always quick to fundraise for local causes, including the Junior Canadian Rangers and the Food Bank on the Edge.
“It’s very community minded.”
She noted Officials has announced it will be closing at the end of 2018 which, she said, “will be the end of an era,” in Ucluelet.
Denise Stys-Norman announced Timmy Masso as the first-ever recipient of the Ucluelet Recreation Commission’s new Youth Citizen of the Year Award.
Masso is a powerful advocate for Indigenous language education and Stys-Norman said his passion has helped him make a huge impact both locally and nation-wide.
“Even before he developed this passion, he was an inspiring, humble, kind and generous child. He is not afraid to speak up about injustice and is also able to do this without anger, which is incredible for someone so young,” she said.