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Kaslo’s Aya Higashi nominated for Queen’s medal

Aya Higashi is one of the latest nominees for the Queen
Aya Higashi is one of the latest nominees for the Queen's Jubilee Medal.
— image credit: Greg Nesteroff photo

Longtime local teacher Aya Higashi has been nominated for the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

Higashi, 92, is one of Kaslo’s most beloved citizens, having taught there for 30 years. She has also taken on an ambassadorial role for the village, speaking to tour groups, visitors and school children about the Japanese-Canadian internment.

In June, she unveiled an interpretive sign marking the site of the former Popoff camp in the Slocan Valley, where she was once principal. However, she was adamant that she is simply Canadian — no prefix or hyphen required.

Higashi was nominated by Greg Nesteroff, who recently profiled her in the Star.

She was one of four people endorsed this month by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, along with Castlegar residents Bev Maloff, Dr. Rebecca McDonnell, and Ron Ross.

They join earlier nominees Corky Evans, Hans Cunningham, Donna Macdonald, Josh Smienk, John Voykin, Gary Wright, and Geoff Yule. Yule is a Castlegar accountant and the rest are current or former regional district directors.

Vokyin has already received his award. The others are expected to be honoured at a ceremony in Nelson in September.

MP Alex Atamanenko asked the three regional districts in his riding to each suggest ten names.

The Village of New Denver has also nominated Agnes Emary through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

In the Kootenay-Columbia riding, medals have been presented to Bea Anton and Dr. Norm Lea of Nakusp, and to five Creston Valley residents: Chris Luke, Muriel Buhr, Henry Schoof, Harry Haberstock, and Lew Truscott.

Nominees in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary so far include former Fruitvale mayor Libby Nelson and Trail’s Audrey Urquhart, while the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is asking the public for suggestions.

The honour is being bestowed on 60,000 distinguished Canadians to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

 

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