Trent Ernst, Editor
On Friday, March 4, Tumbler Ridge doctor Charles Helm was one of 150 Canadians recognized for their excellence and exceptional dedication to service at an awards ceremony in Vancouver.
The awards were presented by David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, “on behalf of all Canadians in communities across the country to help share inspiring stories, celebrate tremendous contributions to our society and connect with Canadians. From community volunteers to astronauts, from actors to members of the military and from scholars to everyday citizens.”
The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created in 1995, and recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.
Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens. The award also brings to light the example set by volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are a part of our Canadian character.
In addition to the Caring Canadian Awards, the Governor General awarded Exemplary Service Metals as well as decorations for Bravery or Meritorious Service.
Helm says it was a very diverse group at the ceremony. “Those receiving medals for acts of bravery and valour were especially inspiring,” he says.
Helm was nominated by Jim Kincaid, on behalf of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.
In his nomination letter, Kincaid points out that Helm has been active in the community since arriving in 1992. “He was a primary instigator in the formation of the Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society (WNMS), which continues with his help to this day to construct and maintain hiking trails, to enormously popular and internationally significant geological features in the area. He is also a founder of, and participant in, the WNMS Emperor’s Challenge, a provincially recognized half marathon that attracts roughly 1,000 entrants per year.”
Helm was also instrumental, writes Kincaid, in the development of the area’s paleontological resources. “His continuing efforts led to the establishment of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation’s Peace Region Paleontology Research Center and its associated Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, the first and only such vertebrate palaeontology facility in the province,” says Kincaid. “He has served in various capacities on the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) Board of Directors from President on down. His on-going field work continues to contribute on an almost daily basis to the growing fossil record in this region.”
Helm is currently vice-president of the TRMF.
Through his work with the TRMF, Helm’s efforts brought the only UNESCO Geopark in western North America to Tumbler Ridge, and serves as a board member on the TR Global Geopark board.”
And if that wasn’t enough, says Kincaid, Helm “has contributed to the historical record in this region by authoring several books about the natural and human history of the region, including a book about the early explorer, Samuel Fay, and an ambitious trilogy about the Tumbler Ridge area.
“Rather than add a myriad of details citing Dr. Helm’s achievements,” writes Kincaid, “I prefer to put all of this in the context of Dr. Helm’s other life. In addition to being an extraordinary volunteer, he serves the community as a medical doctor. Often, as is the case in many smaller communities, he works alone for several weeks in a row as the only doctor on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In spite of this, he maintains an absolutely astounding passion and energy for improving the life of the community. He remains a strong advocate for healthy lifestyles and contributes to the improvement of medical services here and in the region.
“We do not hesitate in recommending Dr. Helm for this award, in the knowledge that his unimpeachable integrity, moral bravery and altruistic spirit make him a worthy candidate for this award. His unquenchable curiosity, combined with his boundless passion and drive are an example to us all.”
Helm says the only reason he is receiving this award is because of all the other volunteers he works with. “It was a real privilege to be a part of this ceremony, but any award I receive is accepted on behalf of the wonderful team of volunteers we have in Tumbler Ridge.”