Lieutenant Governor honours Birch Island’s Jim McGregor with Good Citizenship Award

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell pins the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship on Whitefish River First Nation former chief and band member Jim McGregor during a March 7 investiture ceremony held at Queen’s Park.

QUEEN’S PARK—Whitefish River First Nation member and former chief Jim McGregor was one of eight distinguished individuals recognized during a ceremony at Queen’s Park with the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, the province’s second-highest civilian honour, for his contribution to his community and the province.

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell was joined by Vincent Ke, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, as Mr. McGregor and his fellow medal recipients invested the recipients with their medals at a ceremony at Queen’s Park today.

“I am honoured to invest this year’s recipients of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, all of whom have demonstrated a common devotion to Ontario,” said Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell. “Good citizenship is the foundation of a society that aspires to be resilient. It is fundamentally about how we live together and what we can expect from one another. The civic leadership of these awardees is helping to shape our future as well as our present.”

“Congratulations to the honourees of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship,” said Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport Michael Tibollo. “These individuals have devoted their time, passion, expertise and efforts to make positive change and a lasting impact in their communities and the province. They stand as model Ontarians who exemplify civic-mindedness, integrity and community leadership.”

“It was an honour to be present at the ceremony,” said Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha. “Jim exemplifies what we as community members should strive towards, which is to lead by example and heart. He’s very deserving of the recognition, a very beloved and respected elder.”

The Expositor caught up with Mr. McGregor, where else, but watching his beloved Whitefish River Bantams win their first game 4-3 at this year’s Little NHL in Mississauga.

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Vincent Ke, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, pose with Jim McGregor of Whitefish River First Nation as the former chief and co-founder of the Little Native Hockey League was invested with the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship during a March 7 ceremony at Queen’s Park.

The pomp and circumstance of an official investiture was a bit of unfamiliar territory for Mr. McGregor, he admitted, but he soldiered on through it all. “I wasn’t sure about it all at first,” he laughed, “but I got instructions.”

“It took me a while to figure out why I got it,” said Mr. McGregor of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, “but it was kinda nice. Let’s just say I’m happy.”

Mr. McGregor said that he thanked the person who nominated him for the award, but that he still does not know who it was. Mr. McGregor was officially nominated by his community, the Whitefish River First Nation.

“Jim McGregor of Birch Island, former chief of Whitefish River First Nation, works untiringly as a community leader and advocate to advance Indigenous rights,” reads Mr. McGregor’s citation. “Channelling his love of hockey, education and community service, he co-founded the Little Native Hockey League, promoting sports in First Nation communities. Integral to his character is spirituality as he remains a devoted volunteer in his church as respected council member and president.”

“Jimmy McGregor (is) a class act and gentlemen of sports,” said Whitefish River First Nation Chief Shining Turtle. “I would say ‘he is the man.’ He stayed the course with the LNHL and now look where we are. A visionary in many respects and indeed a tireless volunteer. We could not be more proud of his award.” 

Joining Mr. McGregor as a recipient of the 2018 Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship were:

Vivian Hould of Aurora, a woman who knows all about the calming effects animals have on people. With dedication and compassion through the St. John Ambulance York Region Therapy Dog program, she has assisted thousands of people, including those living with Alzheimer’s, and has helped bring happiness and joy to so many—people and dogs alike; Albert Roland Kowalenko of Toronto, an inspiration to many, whose all-round volunteer efforts are influential in the success of many non-profit and charitable organizations. As a volunteer and advocate for a whole generation of deaf-blind Canadians through the Canadian Helen Keller Centre and the Deafblind Association of Toronto, he has raised awareness and promoted change for them to live fuller lives; David (Dave) Money of Scarborough, a passionate horticulturalist for over 40 years, has been a source of inspiration and guidance to many horticultural societies he founded and revitalized. The creation of the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve in Toronto has enabled future generations to enjoy. His influence can be felt across the province; Maryam Nazemi of Toronto turned a personal workplace tragedy into a driving force for change. A community builder, she is helping many from many cultural backgrounds deal with the pain and disruption of a work injury. She is the recipient of the Willowdale 150 Commemorative medal for outstanding contributions to the community; Frank Perissinotti of Tecumseh says, “No child or family should be left behind.” His many and generous community efforts are with a deep sense of compassion and belief in giving back, essential to a well-balanced community; E. Jean Polak of Bracebridge can be described as a gift to her community. Whether defending the most vulnerable, assisting those in difficult times, protecting the environment or enriching the community, it is done with enthusiasm and compassion; and Olga (Ollie) Sawchuk of Thunder Bay who has been a leader in the advancement of culture and heritage and life enhancement for Thunder Bay for over 60 years. Her every role is taken on with gusto and with a sense of making a difference in her community and beyond.

Created in 1973, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship recognizes people who have made exceptional long-term contributions to the quality of life in the province. Approximately 4.9 million people volunteer in communities across Ontario, leading and supporting more than 55,000 not-for-profit organizations.