5 C
Prince Albert
Monday, May 20, 2024
Home News ‘I considered it a great honour’: MN-S recognizes 24 Métis citizens with Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal

‘I considered it a great honour’: MN-S recognizes 24 Métis citizens with Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal

‘I considered it a great honour’: MN-S recognizes 24 Métis citizens with Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal
Perry (right) and Wendy (centre) Vermette pose for a photo with MN-S Saskatchewan president Glenn McCallum after receiving their Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals on Tuesday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

When business owner Perry Vermette found out he’d been nominated for a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, his first thought was to turn it down.

He probably would have done so had he not sent the email declining the honour to his wife first for proof-reading. Wendy Vermette had also been nominated for a medal, and when she saw her husband’s email, she quickly changed his tune.

“Did I get a blast,” Perry said with a laugh.

“Yes he did,” Wendy confirmed from a seat across from her husband. “He really does not like to be recognized.”

Perry gave in, and on Tuesday the Vermettes were among those honoured with the Platinum Jubilee Medal during a short ceremony at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

Despite his initial reluctance, both Perry and Wendy were humbled and honoured by the recognition.

“I said, ‘you know very well I don’t like that stuff,’” Perry said. “She (Wendy) said, ‘think about it, how many people come up to us walking on the street and say, ‘hey boss’ and ‘thanks for the help’? We’re talking (from) 25 years ago. She said, ‘well, maybe it’s time you let people say thank you.’”

“I considered it a great honour,” Wendy added. “I really did. There’s only so many medals given out, so to be nominated, I think, was a great honour for sure. It’s nice that so many people were recognized today.”

The Vermettes run Vermette Wood Preservers in Spruce Home, roughly 19 km north of Prince Albert. Perry’s father and uncle started the business back in 1973, and he assumed management and ownership in 2005.

While Perry jokes that they run the company because he likes to make money, he said they’ve always made it a priority to hire a few people who are down on their luck and need a job. He stresses that they’ve always tried to be patient and give people second chances.

That’s a lesson he learned from his father, and it’s a big part of why the couple were honoured on Tuesday.

“I’ve got guys who have been with me for years, and I’ve got guys who fall off the wagon, and two or three years later they come back and say, ‘hey boss, can I come back to work?’” Perry explained. “I say, ‘absolutely.’”

The Vermettes were two of 24 people who were honoured with Platinum Jubilee Medals on Tuesday.

The recipients came from the fields of politics, law enforcement, education, and culture, but they all had one thing in common: their Métis heritage.

Métis Nation – Saskatchewan president Glen McCallum was on hand to present the medals. He said it was special to see so many Métis people recognized for their efforts.

Keith Shewchuk hugs MN-S president Glenn McCallum after receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal on Tuesday at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“Our people are so happy,” McCallum said after the ceremony. “Over and over again they say, ‘thanks for the medal’ and I thank the provincial government and the Queen’s Office. She’s not with us anymore … but to be able to promote and recognize the people who have contributed to the well-being of Saskatchewan, thank you.”

McCallum said the awards serve a dual purpose. It gives worthy recipients a chance to be recognized for their efforts, but it also shows the rest of Canada that Métis people have contributed to making the country a better place.

The latter, he said, is an important part of bringing people together, and helping Canadians of different ethnicities respect one another.

“As Canadians we need to work together. We need to complement one another,” McCallum said. “Sometimes people talk about reconciliation, but having events like this gives a great spirit of wanting to work more on reconciliation—and the well-being of Metis people and First Nations people—and Canada has to know that.

“We’re more than happy and willing—and we have shown—that we can work with Canada and want to work with Canada and the people in Canada.”

Tuesday’s ceremony was the second of three events planned by the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan to recognize 100 Saskatchewan Métis citizens for their exemplary service and commitment to their communities, province, country, and Métis Nation.

The third and final ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday at Government House in Regina.