Mary Buie named Billings Township Senior of the Year

Mary Buie, left, has been selected as the Billings Township Senior Citizen of the Year for 2019. In photo she is volunteering at the giant yard sale, barbecue and bake sale put on by the St. John’s Anglican Church in Kagawong last Saturday.

KAGAWONG – A very deserving Mary Buie has been selected by Billings council as the community’s Senior of the Year for 2019.

At a meeting last week, council considered the public’s nomination of two candidates for the award and selected Ms. Buie. “We received several recommendations for the Senior of the Year awards and several recommendations to change the award to the citizen of the year award (in the future), which I think is a wonderful idea,” said Mayor Ian Anderson. 

“We received two nominations,” said Mayor Anderson. Council received three letters in support of Ms. Buie receiving the award and Phyllis Cacciotti had received one nomination letter. 

“Both are excellent candidates,” stated Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “Mary has been here a little longer, she does awesome job in the community, and I know Phyllis has to.”
Councillor Sharon Jackson said, “I like both of these choices, and I recognize the contributions both have made to the community. But you couldn’t find someone more involved in the community than Mary.”

“Both have made big contributions, but I tend to agree with Mary (receiving the award) because she has been in the community longer,” said Councillor Michael Hunt. 

“Either candidate is deserving,” said Councillor Barker. 

Council passed a motion to name Mary Buie as the Billings 2019 Senior of the Year.

In one of the letters sent by members of the public for Ms. Buie it reads, “I would like to nominate Mary Buie for this award. She does so much for us in Kagawong and is always there when you need her.”

Another letter noted that Ms. Buie, “is a vibrant senior in her community. Mary is always out and about and leaves her special touch everywhere; whether it is cleaning up the roadsides, taking photos of the falls, picking flowers for Main Street Café table centre pieces or leaving a basket of goodies to welcome newcomers to our community. She is young at heart. Mary has participated in the annual Christmas variety show and loves to entertain. People half her age have trouble keeping up.”

A third person had nominated Ms. Buie for the award and wrote in part, “Mary is the town nurse, always there if people have a problem they need help with. Any time day or night she will be there!” She was a Girl Guide leader for many years, does the welcome wagon to new residents of Billings, taking them tea biscuits and jam and informing them of activities in Billings. She also is a pillar of St. John’s Church, being involved in their Outreach program. She also acts as a guide when tour buses descend on Kagawong, started and oversees the monthly meeting of cancer survivors on the Island.

It was further pointed out that Ms. Buie has delivered more than 300 babies to mothers on the Island, and still works at the Health Centre in M’Chigeeng two days a week. 

“Oh wow!” exclaimed Ms. Buie about being notified she had been chosen for this award. She pointed out one of the things she likes to do, “is visit elderly members of the community. I enjoy doing it and like people. Yes, we do the welcome wagon visit to new members of the community. I bring tea biscuits and jelly, something I’ve been doing for about 15 years now. It is important that people who move to the township get to know the local people,” she said, pointing out that Linda Ferguson provides the jelly and she makes the tea biscuits. “I have a running list that I keep on behalf of the St. John’s Anglican Church, and we present a letter of welcome from the church as well.”

“I do provide and pick the flowers for the tables at Main Street Café,” said Ms. Buie. She explained, “my mother taught me how to do this. It brightens the tables and makes everything inviting for customers.”

Mr. Buie makes sure beautiful flowers adorn the church as well. “Our church is always open, and people will sign the guest book writing about the church being open to the public at any time and how beautiful the building is,” she told the Recorder. 

Ms. Buie, along with other members of the church, take turns conducting church service when the church minister can’t attend. “I love doing the services,” she said.

“When tourists visit on bus tours and they want to visit the church I will welcome them, give them a tour of the church and explain why people born on the island are Haweaters. I enjoy sharing this information and meeting people very much,” said Ms. Buie. “Our church has a lot of visitors every year because the bow of a boat is the pulpit.”

Ms. Buie is continuing her work as a community health nurse. She arrived on Manitoulin Island in 1969, started work at the Mindemoya Hospital and helped to serve the M’Chigeeng community. As a nurse and midwife, she has helped deliver a lot of babies on the Island. “It’s very special to still be part of the health centre in M’Chigeeng. They really care about their community. And young moms need help and support.”

She is also very involved in the cancer support group on the Island, she told the Recorder, to support others battling cancer.

“Faith is very important to me,” stated Ms. Buie, “and I always try to be a good neighbour to everyone.”

Ms. Buie also sings in a local choir and has acted in Burns Wharf Theatre productions. “I love being a part of Kagawong, it is a good community, and to live on Manitoulin Island. I love life, and live it to the fullest. We all need care, support and friendship.” She noted, “faith is important to me, and try to let the Holy Spirit guide me through life.”

“I’ve had a great life, loved being a nurse, and have a wonderful husband and children and family,” stated Ms. Buie. As the village nurse, “I will always be here if I can help or reassure people.”

“We are very blessed to live on Manitoulin Island, and as a community we care about each other here,” said Ms. Buie. “It is important to care for, and help others when you can.”