Greta du Bois, Director, Foundation, presented Paul Harris Fellow awards to four Kingstonians nominated by club members.

Mary Farrar, nominated by Elizabeth Cohoe

I’ve nominated Mary Farrar to receive a Paul Harris Award for her many and varied contributions, that align with education, health, conservation, community building, and reconciliation with our Indigenous friends.

Professionally, Mary was an elementary school teacher. She retired at 55, and after that became very deeply involved in our community. 

Mary moved into the city (from a hobby farm) 10 years ago and it was only then that she began cycling. She has been part of the initiative to get all the bike lanes you see now. This supports the physical health of our people as well as health of the environment by encouraging biking and reducing carbon emissions.

She was instrumental in getting support from her city councilor and then from city staff to create the Inner Harbor Heritage Trail. With an initial dream of having a trail from the LaSalle Causeway to Kingston Mills on the west side of the Cataraqui River, our city staff suggested that she get a group together to work on possible plans. She was able to get the involvement of some influential citizens, and it went from there. In the end, staff went beyond the original suggestion and proposed that the trail come down the east side of the river as well. Council voted unanimously in favor of the project and completion is planned within the next 20 years. For Canada’s 150th, Council approved that the Inner Harbor Heritage trail be part of a connection between the downtown and the Trans Canada Trail. This connecting trail is now complete except for one inaccessible section at the intersection of Division and John Counter Blvd. Mary and her colleagues are working with city staff to ensure that a pedestrian and cycling overpass will be put in place to solve this problem.

Mary is the President of Friends of the Kingston Inner Harbour. The trail has made the Douglas Fluhrer Park more accessible to people in the north end of Kingston. Before, they were cut off by the railroad. She taught for many years at the old Kingscourt Public School and has an affection for the people in that neighborhood. She strives to do things that will help to create social equity. 

The Kingston Inner Harbour is lively with a large number and variety of animals, including reptiles and birds. With Mary’s leadership, the Douglas Fluhrer Park has become an active place of learning, of projects to support the ecosystem, and activities that connect the settlers’ community to the Indigenous community. There have been organized family days, and many special events. Mary was aware early on in the project to support the turtle population that our Indigenous people place importance on turtles in their cultural beliefs and teaching. She has included The Mohawk Grandmothers’ Council, and The Caretakers of Belle Island. Activities at the park have included teaching about the science of turtles, and about Indigenous learning. On one occasion there was a blanket exercise held in the park, in cooperation with Four Directions and Peace Quest.

By itself the turtles project is notable. It has been going for three years now. Volunteers monitor turtle behavior and cover the nests to protect them from predators. Mary has been able to obtain grants from the Kingston Community Foundation to coordinate the volunteers, and from Trailhead to connect paddlers with the turtles and from the Community Foundation to hire students to help with educational event coordination and improve the quality of the citizen-science research they are engaged in. As well, she has obtained financial support from notable foundations outside of Kingston. Partnerships are in place with Queen's University, Carleton University, and several charitable organizations interested in turtle preservation and turtle habitat. Mary herself has been out snorkeling in the Inner Harbour to try to determine where the turtles come back to hibernate. It is known where they bask in the sun, and where they lay, but not where they hibernate. It is necessary to learn these things as part of a long-term demographic study of turtle habitat there.

On another note, most recently, Mary has begun to make the public aware of the lack of dental care provided to people in long term care. Her husband Edward has been permanently hospitalized at KGH, due to dementia, which also makes communication difficult. Mary had no idea that there is just no time for the staff to provide adequate dental hygiene, or she would have been providing this herself. Ed’s teeth were falling out, and in the end, this led to him having all his remaining teeth removed, due to neglect. Mary took her story to the Whig Standard, and the full story was reported. She stresses that she places no blame on the nursing staff, but since then, she has taken the first steps to bring about change. 

Mary is known affectionately to many as “The Turtle Lady”, so my friend Paulette Bruce who does traditional beadwork, and who is here today, designed and made something to recognize that before she receives the award.

Doug van der Horden, nominated by Ana Sutherland

Doug van der Horden is a child and youth worker and Adolescent Care Worker at Ernestown Secondary School in Odessa.  Children and youth benefit from his work. He is providing clothes in a back-pack as a comfort item during the first point of police intervention.

He works to raise awareness of human trafficking (see The Real Deal on Human Trafficking, Kingston Whig Standard) and is cofounder of the Alliance for Action to help victims.

Raymond Vos, nominated by Bill Gray

Ray has helped many in Kingston to understand the challenges faced by many people in Kenya. He and Irwin Streight presented to Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston telling us about the work and its impact.

I have known Ray Vos for many years. He is a humble man and totally committed to doing what he can to improve lives in Kenya. He works incessantly on the project.

Through Creative Framing/Gallery Raymond, Ray has been a consistent donor to the Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston community auction.

Ray is a fine example of what one person with a passion for service can accomplish.

Ray Vos created The Kenya Initiative: From Street To School about 9 years ago after learning about the challenges faced by people living in and around Kijabe, Kenya. He wanted to support young people, often AIDS orphans or abandoned children, with housing and education at boarding high schools.

Why boarding high schools? Students receive a much superior education and have the best opportunity to be able to care on with post-secondary options. But boarding high schools cost about $1,000 per year, far beyond the reach to most Kenyan families.

Two young men, Isaac and Kaleb, were the first to benefit. With help from The Kenya Initiative, they have both graduated from university and are building their lives.

Funds raised by The Kenya Initiative also support Thread of Hope, an organization training women to learn a skill and become providers for their families. Many have benefited from training and micro loans to establish business from a revolving loan fund made possible by The Kenya Initiative.

Ray Vos has travelled to Kenya three times, 2013, 2016, and again in 2018 to learn, understand and provide moral and financial support.

He is chief fundraiser and a major financial contributor to The Kenya Initiative. Many people purchase his photographs taken in Kenya of the people, all ages, and animals and landscape. 100% of sale proceeds go to The Kenya Initiative.

On'a'got'tay, nominated by Bill Gray

I met On'a'got'tay at an event of the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. From then Nancy and I have gotten to know On'a'got'tay. I meet with him most weeks. He has broadened my understanding and I am very thankful for his coaching, friendship, guidance, and counsel.

On'a'got'tay is active most every day as an ambassador for indigenous peoples, as an educator on matters of language and culture, as a medical person providing knowledge of indigenous medicine and natural remedies.

On'a'got'tay has helped and helps all of us to have a better understanding of our past and to work not just for reconciliation but also for reconciliaction. He is a face of indigenous people in Kingston, enabling people of all races to learn from one another.

Rotarians benefit from his attendance at weekly meetings. The National Committee particularly benefits from his knowledge and advice.

At Kingston General Hospital, On'a'got'tay educates medical personnel on traditional remedies at the same time he comforts indigenous patients with the ways of western medicine.

He is sought out by local school boards and by the City of Kingston.

Children benefit weekly at The Language Nest, a beneficiary of Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston, by learning their language and culture. On'a'got'tay is one of the founders. The Saturday morning programme takes place at Kingston Community Health Centre.

Church groups are gaining understanding through his teaching.

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