Two well-known and respected Powell River community leaders have been recognized as recipients of BC Community Achievement Awards. Jay Yule and Don James join 28 other British Columbians receiving the honour in 2016.
Yule and James’ selections noted their leadership in education, James specifically related to music.
“I feel humbled and honoured,” said Yule, superintendent of schools for School District 47. “You go about doing a lot of volunteer work in your community and you think it really goes unnoticed.”
In addition to his job, Yule has tirelessly devoted time as a volunteer with many organizations and does not think of community involvement in terms of hours, but rather as a way of life.
“It’s funny, I kind of look at it as a lifestyle,” he said. “You’re involved with people in your community, you’re contributing, you’re talking to people, you’re interacting, and it dovetails really well with the job I do, because education is well beyond what happens in our schools; it’s really reflective of the greater community.”
James is being recognized for his role in music education; his vision, influence and dedication has been instrumental in shaping arts and culture in Powell River.
“It’s very gratifying to receive [the award] and very exciting for the community,” said James, who is also an Order of Canada member.
Now retired, James started Powell River Boys Choir in 1974, was one of the founders of Powell River Music Academy and a summer symphony academy and music festival; forerunners to Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy and International Choral Kathaumixw.
James’ original vision carries on a tradition that has made the community known musically around the world. According to James, Powell River has an international reputation that goes back to the town’s beginnings.
“It has a history from when the mill first established itself,” he said. “They were interested in bringing in workers from all over the world, and one thing they did bring in was high-level pipers from Scotland to form Powell River Pipe Band, which did travel the world. Forefathers of the city were always interested in the arts.”
According to the BC Achievement Foundation, which adjudicates the awards, two people from a smaller community receiving the award in the same year is highly unusual, an observation that was commented on during jury deliberation for the final list. Six municipalities had multiple honourees: Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Surrey, Kelowna and Powell River.
According to Yule, the recognition speaks to community spirit. “That’s what I find incredible about the Powell River community,” he said. “We have such a high level of volunteerism, you feel compelled to be involved.”
Previous community achievement award recipients from Powell River include youth leader Mallory Statham in 2004 and former Peak publisher Joyce Carlson in 2009.
A formal awards presentation ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 25, at Government House in Victoria.