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Burnaby full of inspiring men, women and kids

Some may accuse the media of being driven by “bad news” and always looking for the down side to get a better headline. That might well be true.

Some may accuse the media of being driven by “bad news” and always looking for the down side to get a better headline.

That might well be true.

But here at the NOW, we’re proud of the fact that we’re also always looking for the up side – and for the people who fill the community with the kind of “good news” that we all need more of in our lives.

At the end of the year, we like to take a look back at some of those people we’ve encountered throughout the year – and we salute them with our “If Everyone Were Like Them, The World Would Be a Better Place” award. Here are our award winners for 2014:


Georgie Cole

Georgie Cole came into our lives in March, after being named the winner of the Kushiro Cup as the city’s 2013 Citizen of the Year for her five decades of community service. She’s known as a passionate advocate for families, children and youth, with a wide range of community volunteer experience – from literacy programs in schools to the Eastside Opportunities Society to work with Deer Lake United Church, East Burnaby United Church, Block Watch, the Burnaby Barracudas Swim Club and Robert Burnaby Park. And, with all that, this good-natured volunteer was nothing but gracious about her many accomplishments, saying she was simply “humbled” to win. We need more people with that kind of energy and attitude.


Kate and Naomi

This pair of 11-year-olds may be at the other end of the age spectrum from Georgie Cole, but they share the same passion for working for what they believe in. In this case, the two young students came into the limelight in November during the high-profile protests against Kinder Morgan’s work on Burnaby Mountain; in consultation with their families, they made the decision to cross the injunction line – an act that had already seen countless adult protesters arrested. But Kate and Naomi were undaunted.

“I’m 11, and Kinder Morgan is wrong. What they are doing is wrong, they can’t just go around drilling holes in mountains just ‘cause they want oil and money. It’s wrong,” said Naomi.

The two were with Kate’s mother, and police escorted all three away from the scene. The fact that two girls so young were willing to take that step is admirable: they took the time to consider a serious issue and they took a stand for what they believe in. If more people lived with such courage of their convictions, the city – no, the country – would undoubtedly be a better place.


Stephen D’Souza

Anyone who’s been in Burnaby for any length of time knows about Burnaby Community Services and the phenomenal job it does helping people in our city who need some extra assistance – for all kinds of reasons. D’Souza certainly doesn’t do it alone – there’s a veritable army of helpers involved in the organization’s efforts – but his calm, capable, kind and 100 per cent genuine commitment to his causes is certainly a huge part of the reason for its success. To Stephen and the team: We salute you, and thank you – at Christmas and always.


Hippie Mike

You read that right – and if you don’t recognize the name, then you’re obviously not a skateboarder (don’t worry, most of us didn’t know it either). Hippie Mike – a.k.a. Mike Faux – rolled into town with a special event at Bonsor skate park over the summer, part of his Supertour.

Hippie Mike is an ambassador for his sport, with his emphasis on opening it up to competitors of all ability levels, both boys and girls. But it’s not just about the sport for him – it’s about offering opportunities to build confidence in young people, and it’s also about educating kids about charitable cause. For each of his events, he requires either two food items or a $5 donation to a local food bank to enter the contest. A dreadlocked ambassador of good citizenship? Yup, we’ve gotta vote for Hippie Mike.


Burnaby North’s “Small Steps” group

This group of teens is a shining example of what we should all mean when we talk about “kids today” – in the best possible way. Small Steps was started in 2011 by Burnaby North student Sydney Juzenas as a club that would focus onhands-on activities rather than fundraising to help those in need, and the students are continuing to work in a variety of capacities in the community. Their main activity has been helping in the kitchen in the Salvation Army’s Cariboo Hill temple, and they’ve also been active on its kettle campaign. They organize their efforts primarily through a Facebook group some 180 members strong – members can donate as much or as little time as they like. And, together, they’re making a huge difference in the community. Congratulations, Small Steps students, for proving just what “kids today” are made of.

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