Award-winning poet and author Jane Byers has been named Nelson’s cultural ambassador.
Byers, who in 2020 published Small Courage: A Queer Memoir of Finding Love and Conceiving Family, was among several residents honoured during Tuesday evening’s city council meeting.
Byers was chosen for the award by the city’s cultural development committee, which she said was an honour.
“I get to continue doing what I have done over the years whenever I’ve been at authors festivals or readings, which is to glow about Nelson, because I love it here. Now I get to do that in a more official capacity and I’m delighted.”
Byers’ wife Amy Bohigian was previously named cultural ambassador in 2013. Byers joked the pair now have matching sashes.
“I’ve asked for words of wisdom from the former ambassador and what she has said was, ‘Have fun and don’t tell too many people about this place or we’ll be overrun.’”
Award-winning cyclist and volunteer coach Travis Hauck was also named the city’s third sports ambassador.
Hauck, who has won several mountain bike competitions, coaches youth cyclists and nordic skiers. He also volunteers with the Nelson Cycling Club’s Fat Tire Festival and the Tackle the Toad ultramarathon, said it was an honour and shock to be named ambassador.
“It’s an honour. It’s shocking,” said Hauck. “There’s so many talented people in town, but I’m proud of all the activities I do. It really, really makes me feel good that I have a lot of things going on. If I can open people’s eyes to doing more, then that would be my goal.”
Mayor John Dooley said during the award presentation that Hauck will make for an ideal ambassador.
“He has grown his career here in Nelson and has led opportunities to compete across Canada, where he has championed Nelson’s reputation as a sports recreation hub.”
Hauck is Nelson’s third sports ambassador, which was previously awarded to boxing coach Jesse Pineiro and runner Matti Erickson.
The Nelson CARES Society took this year’s heritage award for its work restoring Ward Street Place, an historic building now used for low-income housing.
Sustainability leadership awards were given to the Nelson Izu-shi Friendship Society for its installations at Cottonwood Park, the social innovation group Nest Lab for helping the city implement its climate change policies, and to Stephanie Myers for her volunteer work at multiple organizations, including SEEDS Nelson and Kootenay Pride.
“Stephanie embodies what it means to give back to your community with her work and volunteer efforts,” said Dooley.
Certificates of recognition were also handed out.
Michael Jessen, who passed away in October, was posthumously awarded for his environmental activism, his time as a city councillor and the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s recycling co-ordinator, and for being a long-time volunteer with the BC Lung Foundation (previously named the BC Lung Association).
Dooley said the city had made a donation to the Osprey Community Foundation in Jessen’s name.
“I know Michael got a lot of accolades over the years but I wish we could have done this sooner.”
Nelson Baseball was also recognized for its revitalization of Queen Elizabeth Park, while Nelson Rotary was honoured for its installation of a multi-generational playground and amenities at Rosemont’s Art Gibbon Park.