By Steve Hubrecht
An Invermere woman who gets the province ready to deal with earthquakes, plane crashes and terrorist attacks, among other things, was given royal recognition earlier this month.
Tanya Traverse, the Canada Border Service Agency’s Pacific (B.C. and Yukon) regional emergency management co-ordinator, received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for enhancing the agency’s ability to prepare for and respond to what the agency calls significant events — natural and human-made disasters, as well as security incidents.
Ms. Traverse was born in Invermere in 1978 and graduated from David Thompson Secondary School in 1996. Her parents, Sandy and Tim Traverse, are long-time valley residents.
“It was quite the surprise,” said Ms. Traverse, of getting the award. “It felt strange but is quite the honour.”
Ms. Traverse was unaware she had even been nominated for the award by her manager. Only two people in her division got the award.
“My parents were really, really proud,” said Ms. Traverse. “It’s kind of embarrassing… All my family back in the valley is excited and surprised.”
The Diamond Jubilee Medal has been awarded to 60,000 Canadians during the past year as part of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne.
Most award recipients were nominated for volunteer or community work, but a few, such as Ms. Traverse, earned it in the line of duty.
Any time Ms. Traverse did a career test as a student, the results came back saying she should be a police officer. Not surprisingly, she studied Criminal Justice at the University of the Fraser Valley, graduating in 2000.
She joined the Canada Border Service Agency in 2000, with plans to return to school to do a master’s degree in one year. But she found the work so interesting that she’s still with the agency almost 13 years later.
Ms. Traverse started off by stamping passports in a booth at the airport for a year or so, before moving on to a flexible response team at the agency’s Airside Special Operation, where she and her colleagues spent a lot of time scouring cargo and luggage for commercial quantities of narcotics.
Eventually she moved to the agency’s regional office, becoming the emergency management co-ordinator about two years ago. Now she spends her days figuring out how to deal with everything from large-scale oil spills and incoming vessels filled with migrants to border shooting incidents and out-of-control fires.
“You name it, we’re testing it,” said Ms. Traverse.
It’s a big job — indeed Ms. Traverse said she didn’t realize quite how big until she took it over and winning the award helps increase the visibility of the issues at the heart of her work.
“I think it speaks volumes to the importance of this position,” said Ms. Traverse. “This role is unlike any of the other roles in the office.”
But Ms. Traverse has not forgotten her Columbia Valley roots and has fond memories of her home.
“I probably didn’t appreciate growing up in Invermere as much as I should have,” said Ms. Traverse. “Now that I’m older, I love going back. There’s so much to do and there’s fresh air.”
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Sandy Traverse, about her daughter winning the Jubilee medal. “It’s a pretty big deal for a hometown girl; we’re pretty proud of her.”