A young advocate for the less fortunate in Prince Albert was honoured with a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.
Ecole St. Mary High School Grade 12 student Minghella Coates started helping Prince Albert’s homeless when she was 14. Now 17, Coates was at Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross’ office on Friday to be honoured.
“I was surprised when my mom told me,” Coates said. “It’s crazy, I wasn’t expecting, but it’s incredible.”
Coates is the second member of her family to receive a Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Her mother, Natalie Clyke, received the medal earlier this year.
Both Coates and her mother were recognized for their work helping the homeless. Clyke was the founder of the Community Cares Kitchen, a project Coates frequently helped with as a 14-year-old.
“It was for my 14th birthday (and) me and my mom decided we were going to open up this Community Cares Kitchen,” Coates remembered.
“We wanted to help our community out. It’s been an honour to get to work with my mom and meet all these wonderful people out there and create a family.”
Starting at age 14, Coates helped out with every aspect of the Community Cares Kitchen, including working in the outreach van. She also supervised children as young as nine and 10 who volunteered in the kitchen or helping serve food up front.
Clyke said her daughter took to the work right away and showed compassion.
“Minghella demonstrated wisdom at the very beginning, which was making sure that those who were around our clients were safe, but also building a trusting relationship with them as well,” Clyke said.
Clyke said she didn’t know her daughter was being nominated for a Queen’s Jubilee Medal. She was proud to see Minghella recognized for her efforts.
“It was something that built her character and leads her to the future, knowing that she has these experiences that will make her much kinder and more compassionate,” Clyke said.
Coates has a modelling contract, which will be her main focus after graduation. However, she still wants to make advocating for the homeless a part of her life.
One of the most impactful events for Coates in the last three years was the death of James Moose Sewap. Coates was also the one who spotted Sewap, the namesake of the former PAGC Shelter “Moose Lodge”, on a bench on the riverbank. Clyke said that Coates noticed Sewap on the bench as they were taking her to school. The two new Moose well from his time at the kitchen.
“We slowed down and had a look to see what was going on,” Clyke remembered. “She was dropped off at school and I came back to find Moose had passed away.
“It was a mortifying moment that my daughter had seen somebody that meant so much to us. At that point, James and his son were predominant users of our lodge, for the fact that there is a compassion and kindness that was unique.”
On that evening after Sewap was found, they held a small celebration for his life on the riverbank.
“We had so many of our community come together, so many of that community left, and when we left, we were able to have a little bit of a salutation to his passing,” Clyke said. “Instead of everybody actually ingesting that salutations, and including my daughter having her first sip of salutations on the riverbank with our homeless population for the first time, they didn’t actually drink that salutation. They actually placed it on the spot where James passed away.”
The entire episode was impactful for both Clyke and Coates. This was after the first winter season of what became the Moose Lodge.
“It was definitely not something awesome to see, but it also opened my eyes to what’s out there,” Coates said. “I’ve learned to love everybody, don’t treat anybody differently.”
Coates said having a jubilee medal along with her mother shows the passion the family has for helping the less fortunate.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal (Provincial) commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal (Saskatchewan) recipients are to be of all ages and from all walks of life who have contributed to their community and society.
Ross said that the Medal had many diverse and wonderful recipients. Ross has presented 60 awards and there a few more to present because timing has not worked out
“We were able to get a few extra because we have a list,” Ross said.