Community awards cancelled

Derek Montague
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Five out of 13 categories received no nominations

Jeremy Billard holds his male youth of the year plaque, from the 2013 Happy Valley-Goose Bay Community Awards. The awards ceremony has been cancelled for 2014, due to lack of interest in the nomination process.

The 16th community awards ceremony was scheduled to take place this month, to coincide with Volunteer Week. But, due to lack of community interest in the nomination process, the event, which was scheduled for April 12, has been cancelled.

“It’s sad, in a sense, because everyone loves it … everybody leaves the evening and thinks it’s a great event,” said Happy Valley-Goose Bay Community Awards committee chair, Shelley Broomfield.

“It’s a way to celebrate people and have really nice night.”

Every year, each man, woman and child in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is called upon to nominate outstanding citizens for various awards to the committee.

This year, five out of 13 categories — female athlete of the year, male athlete of the year, male youth of the year, citizen of the year, and sponsor of the year — received zero nominations, despite a call for nominations being spread through local media and social media.

“I’m surprised we didn’t get more nominations, especially after doing the radio bit and having it in the newspaper and the old-fashioned word-of-mouth,” said Broomfield.

“I didn’t think it would be that hard. I think that we went above and beyond this year.”

This hasn’t been the first year where the committee struggled to get nominations. Last year, there was one youth category that received no nominations from the community, so the committee approached Mealy Mountain Collegiate to provide candidates.

This year, out of fairness to everybody, the committee decided that, if they didn’t get at least one nomination for every category, the awards wouldn’t be going ahead.

“When I was on the radio, we outright made the statement: if we weren’t going to get nominations for every category, then we weren’t going to have it this year,” said Broomfield.

“That wasn’t to be negative. We don’t think it’s fair, as a committee to sit down and think of people to nominate when it’s a community event. I don’t think it’s fair for the people who have already been nominated … I think it should come from the community, not from the committee.”

Broomfield doesn’t know why there were so few nominations this year. Writing a nomination for someone in the community, she says, is not a time-consuming task.

“It’s the easiest thing. You’re basically just celebrating somebody,” said Broomfield. “You don’t need to do it in three pages of words. It could be just a few paragraphs on how they’ve affected the community and what they’ve done.”

Broomfield and the committee is using this setback to do something positive with the community awards. This will be a good time to re-evaluate the awards and what can be done differently.

Some ideas include having the awards bi-annually, and including all central Labrador communities in the nomination process.

“Something we’re looking at now for next year is re-evaluating and opening up to Upper Lake Melville. So Mud Lake, North West River, and Sheshatshiu will also have the option to nominate people, which I think is great,” said Broomfield.

“Another thing that we were going to look at and re-evaluate is whether or not it should be every second year, because we are a small community.”

But the committee doesn’t want this spring to go by without recognizing the hard work for volunteers and outstanding citizens in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. In lieu of an awards banquet, there will be an informal meet and greet, held on April 9, in the upstairs room of the E.J. Broomfield Arena.

“We still want to do an event,” said Broomfield. “We feel that volunteers in the community, organizations in the community, businesses; all of the individuals within the community who do so much, and go above and beyond, still need to be recognized.”

Organizations: Mealy Mountain Collegiate

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay Community, Labrador Upper Lake Melville Mud Lake North West River

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