This year, 2012, is a year for celebrations! Not only because of the end of the Mayan calendar and the myths surrounding it, but because 2012 marks 60 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the Queen of Canada.
Her Majesty, technically the Queen of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and 12 other states belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952. Celebrations of this Diamond Jubilee year will be held in all 16 Commonwealth countries and will be marked by parades, parties and awards with the pomp and pageantry expected of a Royal occasion.
In Nakusp, the pomp was marked by the Diamond Jubilee medal being given to two local residents on Wednesday, July 18 during Music in the Park.
Dr. Norm Lea and Bea Anton each received one of the 60,000 medals to be awarded in Canada, presented by MP David Wilks for Kootenay-Columbia. Diamond Jubilee medals are intended to commemorate the event by honouring those Canadians who have made contributions to our communities and country.
MP Wilks began the formalities by giving the audience a short history of our Queen, her ascension to the Throne, and the royal family. He also read part of the speech that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made on February 6, 2012, Accession Day, or the anniversary of when she became queen.
At ceremonies like the conferring of the Diamond Jubilee medal, it is standard for the presenter to pin the medal to the chest (hopefully to their clothes only) of the recipients, but our local honorees were a little too shy and looked very grateful once they could leave the stage and after the photos had been taken. Perhaps even more than the medal, the applause from the crowd of citizens indicated how much Dr. Lea and Bea Anton are valued by the community for all their efforts. Mayor Karen Hamling gave voice to the applause with a speech thanking the recipients for their contributions to our community.
Dr. Lea was presented with the award for his dedication to ensuring medical coverage and services to local residents. Having come here in 1988 after medical school and not intending to stay more than one year, Dr. Lea has instead become an enormous asset to this community over his many years of service. His efforts to ensure the emergency room is kept open for those who become injured and need immediate care have literally made the difference between life and death.
The second recipient of the Diamond Jubilee award was Bea Anton. A resident of Nakusp for over 80 years, Anton has seen many things change in this community. Through it all, Anton has contributed to the community by caring for those who cannot care for themselves.
Anton spent 50 years at the Arrow Lakes Hospital both as a nurse and an X-ray technician. These days she works with those in the community who have suffered a loss; she sits with those who are ill and those who have lost loved ones, helping others through hard times. Hamling called her “the mother of Nakusp” for all her work looking after our community.
The Diamond Jubilee award consists of a certificate signed by the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston and a medal.
The medal looks like a very regal coin attached to a traditional looking ribbon, the kind of ribbon you see with war medals. I could imagine a medal like this hanging from the jacket of Napoleon Bonaparte or G. G. Patton. One side of the medal has a profile of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II similar to what you would see on a Loonie except in it the Queen is wearing a large crown. On the other side of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal there is a beautiful diamond pattern with an embedded maple leaf, with the dates of the diamond anniversary. The motto VIVAT REGINA meaning “Long live the Queen!” emblazons this side, and in the centre of this pattern is the Royal Cypher, the image of the Royal Crown above the letters EIIR.
This joyous time is a rare event previously occurring only once in British and Commonwealth history. In 1897 Queen Victoria celebrated a Diamond Jubilee with the people of Great Britain. For this year’s events the federal government of Canada spent $2 million for Diamond Jubilee celebrations held in local communities and $7.5 million in total.
It is likely there will not be another Jubilee celebration for a long time, if ever again. As MP Wilks quipped, given the queen’s age of 85 it seems unlikely Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will continue to reign for as long as necessary to see another jubilee. One would imagine even Her Majesty would like to retire at some point.
In popular media both in the UK and in other Commonwealth countries such as Canada, there have also been questions about the longevity of the monarchy once Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has ended her reign. If the monarchy does continue after Elizabeth II ends, then a successor, presumably Prince Charles or Prince William will be chosen. The next jubilee would be 25 years after one of these potential successors to Queen Elizabeth II is crowned or ascends to the throne.