Compiled by Daily Herald Staff
The Citizen of the Year award has been handed out annually since 1958. It celebrates Prince Albert residents who have gone above and beyond in service to their community in the previous calendar year. Recipients are celebrated with a banquet, usually held in February. Due to COVID-19, this year’s celebration took a different format this year. Presentations were made in honour of the 2020 Citizen of the Year recipient, Margaret Ferguson.
First, lets start off with the person and people who nominated Ferguson, Ruth Griffiths and friends:
Citizen of Year Nomination
Nominated by her quilting friends:
Marlene Mitchell, Ina Buck, Gwyn Griffiths, Ruth Griffiths, Elaine McMillan, Brenda Lee, Dorothea Herron, Carol Skaar, Arlene Just, Karen M. Hindle, Gina Troupe, Audrey Veer, Wendy Noble.
Why we are nominating Mrs. Ferguson
Margaret Ferguson has made exceptional efforts this year to provide care and comfort for homeless men, women and children in our community.
Margaret has turned her home into a workshop for making functional quilts that are given away to local shelters. Since 2012, Margaret and a diverse group of volunteers have produced 675 quilts to give away.
The quilt making has taken over her home, from floor to ceiling, but Margaret is modest about her accomplishments. In a Facebook post from October 2020 she says: “These quilts … were made with the generous support of Elk Ridge Resort, Three Lakes Camp and Fabricland. Many people have contributed to this effort…my Church community, Girl Guides, friends, friends of friends, family and their families too. Endless donations of old jeans, comforters and sheets have come from as far away as Regina, Weyakwin, Christopher Lake, Yorkton, Saskatoon, Nipawin. It is clear that there are good people in the world who want to make a difference. I am so proud to have them for my friends.”
PANDEMIC PROMPTS GREATER SERVICE
This year, the pandemic has dramatically increased the homelessness crisis in our community. Marg has stepped up by sewing masks, making soup, baking treats and sewing mittens… all to give away.
Her church, Community of Christ, has continued its annual Christmas project of stuffing socks with personal care items: toothbrush, face cloth, comb, soap, gloves and candy. The filled stockings have been given to Our House and Access Place.
And all of this was done while maintaining social distancing and masking guidelines!
A CAREER OF HELPING OTHERS
Margaret Ferguson is a true woman of the North. She raised her children in a remote area of Prince Albert National Park where her husband was a Warden. She has worked in corrections at Pine Grove Correctional Centre where she also taught sewing. She co-owned a sewing store on Central Avenue and later operated a home-based business called Bras Bold and Beautiful where she taught women how to construct their own decorative and therapeutic undergarments,
Her greatest joy, however, is to roam the remote northern forests picking fiddleheads, mushrooms and berries in season. She has used many of these gourmet foods in the soups and baking she has given to the homeless this year.
A ROLE MODEL
Margaret Ferguson is an inspiration for giving. Because of her giving ways, she encourages other people to discover ways in which they can also give. And in the process they become friends.
VOLUNTEER AND CLUB AFFILIATIONS
Margaret has been a life-long member of Girl Guides of Canada. She is the president of the Taiga Trefoil Guild, a section of Guiding for those who are “a little older.” Her inventiveness, enthusiasm and organizational skills have helped a dozen Trefoil Guild members enjoy camping in both the fall and the winter.
A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Margaret Ferguson would be an excellent choice as Prince Albert’s Covid-Year Citizen. During Covid times we need to take care of each other. Margaret lives each day the values of “love thy neighbor.”
Next, a message from our Mayor Greg Dionne on behalf of the City of Prince Albert:
“The Council of the City of Prince Albert in lawful session has directed that public recognition and acclaim be given to those citizens who, through accomplishments in the varied fields of human endeavour, bring special honour to the community at large.
Margaret Ferguson did achieve community distinction through her dedication and efforts to help the homeless, cold and hungry. Margaret has produced and donated hundreds of quilts, masks, mittens and comfort food to local homeless and emergency shelters and care homes.
Margaret has distinguished herself and brought recognition to herself and the City of Prince Albert for which the City recognizes her as the 2020 Citizen of the Year, an honoured merit such an achievement deserves.”
-Mayor Greg Dionne
City of Prince Albert
Now some remarks from the president of the Kinsmen Club of Prince Albert, Marcus Abrametz:
“The Prince Albert Kinsmen Club is pleased to join with the Daily Herald in recognizing Margaret Ferguson as your 2020 Prince Albert Citizen of the Year. This celebration has unfortunately been delayed by the COVID pandemic, but let us recognize today – and every day – the kind and loving service of civically-engaged people like Margaret who truly deserve our respect and acknowledgement.
The past two years have been difficult for our city’s most vulnerable people, but thankfully Margaret has been here to brighten their path and lighten their burden. She provides the basics of life necessities – which we take for granted as we sleep safely in our warm beds – selflessly for the underprivileged, as a loving mother would for her children. And she does this not for recognition or personal gain, but for the joy of giving. When you see her, congratulate her, and encourage others to mirror her kindness.”
President, Kinsmen Club
of Prince Albert
Followed by the editor at the Prince Albert Daily Herald, Jason Kerr:
I’ve always been impressed at the dedication and energy Citizen of the Year award winners bring to Prince Albert. If anyone ever wonders why we recognize citizens like Margaret Ferguson, look at just how much time, effort and sometimes money they give to local causes. Throwing a banquet in their honour seems like the least we can do.
I mentioned that to Margaret while we were at City Hall for the awards ceremony. It seemed almost criminal not to do something more for her. She told me she wasn’t bothered at not having an awards banquet. After all, she said, we don’t do this for the awards.
With those words, I think Margaret spoke for every Prince Albert Citizen of the Year winner I’ve talked to. They all have a roll in so many different areas, and none of them do what they do for the recognition.
It’s important to recognize them though, even if we can’t have a banquet. There are so many services, so many fundraisers, so many projects and events that would collapse without the dedicated support of people like Margaret. To them, we say thanks, and to Margaret in particular, we say well done. You’ve done so much to make Prince Albert a better place. You are a worthy recipient of Prince Albert’s Citizen of the Year award.”
Editor, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Finally, some kind words from her family:
From her daughter, Corrine Ferguson:
“There are a lot of people in the world who want to make a difference but just don’t know how or maybe, they don’t think they can. It takes people like my Mom to gather them and provide the opportunity. Our home was always a gathering place, a centre for making plans and organizing events. Mom has always believed that if want to have friends, you have to BE a friend. What better way to be friends than to be friends in kindness and giving. If you want to have a kind community you have to be kindness in a community.
Not everyone has to be like my Mom. There would be too many Capital Type A’s out there. It takes people like her AND the friends and contributors who do what they can with what they’ve got. In a time where we are so easily divided by our opinions, maybe we can come together and make something good for someone who is struggling. We can throw together a tasty pot of soup or a batch of muffins or a warm quilt made by someone that cares; someone who knows you have something to offer even when life is hitting you about as hard as it can. There has to be some blessing in the world for each of us. If you’ve never had it, theres a lot of blessing that comes in the giving.”
From her son, Roy Ferguson:
“There are many things I can think of that are indicators of mom’s character but I can say she always insisted on doing the right thing even when that was not the easiest way. She believed in leading by example and by helping those less fortunate then herself she continues to do just that.”
It isn’t always easy to settle on a Citizen of the Year recipient. Every year we receive nomination forms filled out by Prince Albert residents telling us why their family member, co-worker, or friend is a deserving candidate. Sometimes there is a clear-cut winner. Other year, there are hours of discussion as the selection committee chooses between two or more deserving nominees.
We aren’t complaining, though. It’s a good problem to have. It shows us just how committed Prince Albert residents are to making their City better.
Nominations are now open for the 2021 Citizen of the Year Award. We look forward to reading about the nominees, and hope you’ll join us in celebrating the winner’s accomplishments in the coming months.