Dr. Graham Kelsey, Big Lake community volunteer and past-president of the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society (2010 to 2012) has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his outstanding community service.
The award was presented in Big Lake Dec. 2 by Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson.
Kelsey has long held the view that voluntary service to a community is one of the most important activities a person can undertake.
In his former life as an academic he served on various national, provincial and university boards and was the recipient of a University Teaching Prize, the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration and the UBC Alma Mater Society’s “Just Desserts” award for service to students.
Retiring to the Cariboo in 1998 he has devoted his time and his expertise to community service in two principal ways: helping the small community of Big Lake, and furthering the cause of arts and culture in the Central Interior.
He has served on the Big Lake Community Association board for 12 years and was awarded a plaque in recognition of “exemplary service and dedication” at the Association’s 2011 annual meeting.
He served as secretary to the building committee established to create the new community fire hall and was instrumental in raising the $235,000 needed, as well as in ensuring the efficient and transparent management of a project that was completed on time and on budget in November of 2000.
Since then he has continued to serve the volunteer fire department as a fund raiser ($135,000 for a new rescue truck) and as volunteer manager of the community levy that raises $16,000 annually for the department’s operation.
He is able to draw on these experiences to donate his time in advising other communities who are seeking to fund or to establish fire departments (McLeese Lake, Likely, Chimney and Felker Lakes).
The work with the fire department has been something of a sideline to his major volunteer commitment as secretary-treasurer of the Big Lake Community Association. He was re-elected to this position eleven times and was responsible for the entire administration of the Association’s finances and programs. He developed the policies, financial controls and procedural guidelines that have made the Association well respected in the Cariboo Regional District as an efficient and thriving community association.
Kelsey’s work in the arts and culture field has taken him beyond the community to a wide area of the Central Interior. In 2002 he was appointed by Order-in Council to the BC Arts Council and served on council for six years as one of only two members north of Kamloops. He served as president (2004-2006) of the Central Interior Regional Arts Council and remained active on its board until 2012.
His volunteer work in that capacity included not only governance and administrative matters, but also giving presentations and workshops and helping community arts councils throughout the central interior.
In 2006 Kelsey was invited to address the board of the Central Cariboo Regional District (CRD) on the topic of the value of arts and culture in creating and maintaining healthy communities. This presentation eventually proved to be the catalyst that led the Regional District two years later to be the first regional district in the province to pass a bylaw creating an arts and culture function.
It serves the CRD’s three areas D, E and F and the City of Williams Lake. To implement the function, a new non-profit society (The Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society) was formed in 2010, with Kelsey as its first president. During his presidency (2010-2012), the society has established itself as the key facilitative organization for the more than sixty arts and culture groups in its region.
Kelsey continues to sit on the society’s board as past president and remains active in its programming.