Accolades abound as Ucluelet wrapped up its Ukee Days celebrations on July 28 with a closing ceremony that included the crowning of the town’s citizen, business, youth and volunteer of the year.
Chamber of Commerce manager Lara Kemps kicked off the triumphant roster of winners by announcing The Blue Room as Ucluelet’s Business of the Year.
“I am very proud of this business and the owner [Dustin Riley]. He has always gone so far and above everything, volunteering for our community, working on so many boards and always with a smile on his face and with a good attitude,” Kemps beamed before handing Riley his award.
Riley thanked the large audience at the Ukee Days fairgrounds and said the weekend shined a light on the town’s close-knit comradery.
“It’s about locals. This whole family that we have here makes this place work,” he said. “I love you guys.”
Riley told the Westerly News Ucluelet’s profound love for its residents motivates those residents to reciprocate in full.
“It’s about community spirit and love for what you do, where you live and the people around you, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we do this,” he said. “This whole gathering every year is just amazing to me, but it’s not just this weekend, it’s every single day. That’s the love of Ucluelet.”
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Ucluelet’s Volunteer of the Year was announced by mayor Mayco Noel and a loud cheer shot through Seaplane Base Field as he called out Food Bank on the Edge Society executive director Cris Martin’s name.
“This person, I’m a big fan of…She’s a very dedicated volunteer for the community and works tirelessly for the food bank,” Noel said before expressing his admiration to Martin directly. “We love and adore you.”
Martin told the audience she was “taken aback” by the announcement and echoed Riley’s sentiment about the community being one big family.
She told the Westerly News it was “lovely” to be recognized.
“This is just really special…This is such an honour and I’m very grateful,” she said. “This community is beyond any community I’ve ever been in…It’s the quality of the people here, the locals, it’s family. We’re all helping each other with the struggle and you can depend on people. It’s nice to know that we can depend on our community for support. It’s a very comforting feeling and makes us feel really valuable.”
Parks and recreation director Abby Fortune announced the Youth Citizen of the Year Award, happily handing the honour to Cameron Graham.
“Cam’s one of our success stories in Ukee, that’s for absolute sure,” she said. “Huge energy, huge commitment and certainly a well rounded individual.”
Graham told the Westerly that the recognition felt “amazing.”
“I love this town, so I try to do everything I can for this town,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized…It shows that this town cares. Ucluelet has such a family vibe to it.”
Fortune also announced this year’s Citizen of the Year Award, which was presented to the Wild Pacific Trail Society as a group. Fortune noted the society is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
“This is a group of dedicated volunteers that are so committed to the betterment and education of Ucluelet,” she said. “They have truly managed to put Ucluelet on the map and continue to grow their dream for the community and the tourists of our region. Our hats off to you guys.”
Wild Pacific Trail Society president Barb Schramm expressed hearty gratitude for the award and said the recognition should be shared by the whole community.
“This really is a shout out for everyone in town because, without you, there would be no trail whatsoever,” she said.