Nelson’s citizen of the year ‘humbled’

The citizen of the year is a person who is selfless, that wants to be a part of community, not a person that takes but one who gives.

Bruce Halstead

Nelson’s citizen of the year is a person who is selfless, wants to be a part of community, not a person that takes but one who gives, says Bob Tremblay of the Knights of Columbus.

This year, the person who best exemplifies that is Bruce Halstead.

“It’s a very humbling thing,” said Halstead about receiving the award from the Knights of Columbus.

“The community is saying to me, ‘Thank you for the help you’ve done,’ and to be put in the same category of some of the others who have been selected in the past is quite an honour.”

Halstead, a retired police officer, said that he started his volunteer service for the community right when he arrived in Nelson.

“When I moved here in 1977 from the Victoria Police Service I thought to myself, ‘This is a good city.’”

“You can’t help but like this place. I’m an outdoorsman, I like hunting and fishing and hiking and those kinds of things and this was right in the middle of it,” he said.

Just a few of the services Halstead’s been involved with is coaching baseball, and providing cut firewood for the elderly people in need.

“I’m involved with the Lions Club, the men’s group at my church, I’m chairman of the preschool program there called Cornerstone… we do all kinds of things in the community,” said Halstead, who will turn 72-years-old in July.

He also gave back to the community while at the Nelson Police Department.

“I was involved in the community relations program for quite a while, so I raised money for bicycles for little kids and for all the schools and we would give bikes to children in need,” said Halstead.

“Helping people was just a part of policing. Everyday you’re helping people.”

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy efforts that Halstead has been involved in is the Kootenay Romanian Relief Organization.

Since 1991, Halstead has worked as a key member of the organization sending clothing, building houses and more to the country of Romania.

“We went to Romania in 1991 and adopted a little boy and later a girl and right after that we started the (KRRO)… we’re just getting ready to send our 11th container right now.”

Halstead said that he learned how to give from his parents.

“It was the way I was brought up,” said Halstead.

“When I was a kid we lived right beside the railroad tracks in Okotoks, Alta., bums would get off the train and knock on our door and my mom would make them lunch and a cup of tea and send them on their way.”

His dad was also the volunteer fire department chief for years while being involved in scouts.

“You just grow up with it.”

Halstead that he hopes his volunteer efforts inspire others to do the same.

“Anything I’ve done I’ve tried to get young people involved in doing. We’ve got lots of young people involved now in the Romanian relief effort, and that’s a big thing.”

Halstead will formally receive the citizen of the year award on April 21 at a banquet ceremony held at St. Josephs at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are available at Sonja’s China Cabinet until April 20.

Halstead was chosen for the honour by an independent panel that evaluates the nominations.

“I think it’s just an absolutely excellent selection… we’re entirely pleased,” said Tremblay.

“I’ve had a number of people approach me recently and say ‘he’s the person I would have chosen.’ His actions speak so loudly of the spirit we’re trying to recognize — that people volunteer just out of the goodness of their heart — they want to be a good citizen and that’s how they show it, by their volunteer actions.”


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