Greenwood volunteer honoured with new Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
September 11th, 2012

Greenwood resident and avid volunteer Marjorie (Marge) MacLean was presented with the newest government honour — the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal, Monday, Sept. 10.

The Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal is the most recent addition in a line of special awards that honour Canadians for their outstanding service and contributions to our country. It was created to mark the 60th Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne.

Greenwood mayor Nipper Kettle nominated MacLean for the medal.

“I was happy to nominate her because I know she is so deserving of it,” said Kettle. “She is a stellar, outstanding community-minded citizen.”

“She’s been a dedicated volunteer in our community for years and years, has belonged to nearly every organization and has held nearly every (executive position).”

When Kettle told MacLean about the nomination she didn’t think it would come to anything.

“I thought, ‘oh my gosh, isn’t that great’,” recalls MacLean during a private interview with the Boundary Sentinel.

I’m really excited (about the award). But I hate that one person gets all the glory. It’s always a team that does all the work … It’s never an individual effort… I really have to accept this award on behalf of every team I work with.

“I’m delighted for Greenwood and I just love to give Greenwood some recognition.”

MacLean is best known for her work with the Greenwood Historical Society and the Greenwood Museum. She was also involved with the curling club and taught Sunday School.

The retired Greenwood Elementary teacher may help preserve history, but she’s also apart of it.

She moved to Greenwood from Vancouver in 1946 as a young 19 year-old teacher fresh from her training. She was hired to teach the children who lived in the Japanese Internment Camp in Greenwood that was established during World War II.

“There were 48 kids, 95 per cent of them were Japanese and 80 per cent of those didn’t speak English,” recalls MacLean. “The kids learned to speak English fast and we learned to speak Japanese.”

She spent the next 40 years at Greenwood Elementary, married a local boy after he returned from serving in World War II and made her mark on the community as a dependable volunteer.

During her time at the school, MacLean established the district library and resource center where she became known as the “story lady”.

“Kids still come back today and remember me as the story lady,” said MacLean, who says she can recall most of the nearly 200 stories she would read.

I’ve always been involved in the community. I just look at a need and you just pitch in and do it.

“Since I’ve retired my passion has been the museum … There is such a romantic history in Greenwood — the mining and the internment camp,” said MacLean. “It is just remarkable, I think, to display the history and tell the story. I just love to tell visitors.”

The Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal was presented to MacLean by Nancy Greene-Raine, champion alpine skier, a Canadian Senator for BC and a past recipient of the Order of Canada during a special celebration in the Greenwood City Council chambers at city hall on Monday. More than 50 people attended the celebration.

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