The 2014 Heritage Recognition Awards took place last Friday afternoon at the Red Deer Public Library.
The awards, chosen by the City of Red Deer’s Heritage Preservation Committee, aimed to honour those in the community who have worked to preserve the history of Red Deer and included awards in six categories.
Most notable of the awards is the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in heritage education and awareness over an extended period of time.
This year’s award went to Irene Verhaege for the work she has done to preserve and promote cultural heritage in the City, in particular the work she has done with Kvitka, Red Deer’s Canadian Ukrainian Dance Club and the preservation of Ukrainian heritage in Red Deer.
Verhaege stated during her acceptance speech how, “Dance has always been near and dear to my heart.”
Her work began in 1980 when she joined Kvitka and she has been working ever since to ensure the club plays a vital role in the community.
“My personal goal was to make the Ukrainian dance club viable and visible with the community and represent Red Deer in a positive way.”
Other initiatives recognized during the awards were the completion of the Central Alberta Historical Society’s Historical Arches which pay homage to the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s railyards.
Bill Mackay, past president of the Central Alberta Historical Society stated during the awards how he believes many people were unaware that at one time Taylor Dr. was where the railroad ran and stressed the importance of the CPR’s role in Red Deer’s development over the last 75 years.
The awards also honoured Red Deer’s Remembering The Children Society for the work they have completed to raise awareness for past industrial schools in the area.
Local students of Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School were also honoured for the work they completed alongside their teachers and other volunteers for their Commemorative Wall Project – an initiative which honours soldiers who were past students of the high school who served in the First and Second World Wars.