By Kristian Rasmussen
Two of the Columbia Valley’s finest have received royal recognition for their hard work and dedication to volunteering in the community.
Through nomination, Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac and Cpl. Grant Simpson have been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The medal was created in 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and to honour Canadians who have made contributions to their community.
“I think volunteering is vital in any community,” Staff Sgt. Shehovac said. “I think it is important for the residents to not only see us being there to uphold the law and work as police officers, but also to see us involved in the community.”
Staff Sgt. Shehovac has no lack of involvement in the Columbia Valley. Invermere’s top cop works with youth hockey, army cadets, and several charities.
“The biggest success I get through volunteering is getting to know the people who I wouldn’t otherwise get to meet through my work,” he said. “As soon as I arrive for an issue, or a problem, it is not a case of an unknown policeman coming to the scene, but Marko showing up.”
Although he is honoured with the medal, the award was really a gift for his father, who has always been proud of his son’s service in the RCMP and volunteer work.
“My father, who is 89 now, came to Canada as an immigrant after the Second World War and is sick in hospital,” he said.
“I went last weekend to go see him and wore my red serge because I thought it might be the last time. It was really great that I could also tell him that I got this medal because it made him happy. It meant more for me to show my dad than it did to be awarded the medal.”
Cpl. Grant Simpson was recommended for the award by Staff Sgt. Shehovac.
“It is quite an honour for me to be recognized by my boss for the work that I have done,” Cpl. Simpson said. “It’s a humbling experience.”
Cpl. Simpson was recognized for his hard work in coaching youth sports, like soccer and hockey.
“It is nice to pass on to the next generation the fun experiences that I have had growing up playing sports,” he said. “It is really interesting to watch them learn, develop, and then blossom as players.”
The valley local also volunteers his time to stick up for victims of violence in relationships. Cpl. Simpson works with the Integrated Case Assessment Team and the Community Coordination for Safety in Relationships group.
“Any time there is a serious case brought up with violence in a relationship and a threat of bodily harm, or death, we get together with our partners in the community and come up with a safety plan for victims of these crimes.”
The two officers have not received their medals yet and are expecting to be awarded the honour some time in the fall.
Staff Sgt. Shehovac and Cpl. Simpson are among 60,000 other Canadians who have received the medal for their contributions to community.