Cariboo Chilcotin resident Veera Bonner was recently honoured at the Williams Lake Seniors Activity Centre at a ceremony where she was presented with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award by Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.
Barnett welcomed the group and explained that the award is a commemorative medal that marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne as Queen of Canada. “It’s an occasion marked only once before by her great-great-grandmother in 1897 by Queen Victoria,” she said.
Barnett explained that, to celebrate this event, 60,000 outstanding Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life are honoured for their contributions or distinctive service to their fellow citizens, their communities or to their country.
She said that Bonner was nominated by her good friend Jim Herperger.
When Herperger addressed the crowd, he announced that he would share a story about Veera, and when he said he would keep it ‘short and sweet,’ Bonner quipped, “Not too short!”
Herperger said that Veera (nee Witte) and her sisters (Irene and Hazel) wrote the ‘Book of Exodus’ about local history called Chilcotin: Preserving Pioneer Memories. “She has been a great resource for anyone writing about the area, providing information, details, photos and encouragement. She is a great historian and has written for the Tribune for many years.
“She captures the spirit and nature of the area, and writes the best obituaries that you’ve ever read. I’m hoping she’ll do mine; she said that could be arranged,” he stated.
“She is one of the people who ran the elections at Big Creek. It’s probably one of the only polling stations in Canada where after you vote you can have a nice cup of tea and look at a picture of the Prime Minister and Conservative Party of Canada on the wall. It probably gets the people who run the elections a bit nervous, but that’s the way it is—she’s not going to change.”
He said that Bonner is always up for an adventure, a party or a trip. “One time I made the mistake of mentioning that I was going to raft down the Chilcotin and said to her, ‘You should come.’
“‘OK,’ she said, ‘let’s go.’”
Bonner is a fierce defender of ranching and logging in the Chilcotin, as well as the traditional lifestyle, according to Herperger, who added that she is a great champion of a ‘small person’ who tries to remain independent of government, and she is a devout Christian who lives her faith.
He said that Veera has a large sense of humour and loves a joke, especially one told by Paul St. Pierre or Bruce Watt—her special favourites.
Her daughter provided some insights into Veera’s life and history, which Jim shared with the crowd. Letters of congratulations were presented by Barnett to Bonner from the Governor General of Canada and BC Premier Christy Clark.
Veera Bonner addressed the crowd, stating that the occasion was a great honour for her and that she appreciated everyone coming. “It’s wonderful to look around this room and see all the people and realize you came for me.”