3 Greater Victoria residents receive medals for being awesome citizens

Ron Rice, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. June 2021 (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Ron Rice, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. June 2021 (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Andrei Marti holding a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sign. (Courtesy of Annelies Browne)Andrei Marti holding a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sign. (Courtesy of Annelies Browne)

The B.C. government has recognized three Greater Victoria residents for their exceptional service to community life.

Ron Rice and Karen Hira of Victoria, and Andrei Marti of Brentwood Bay, have all been selected to receive the 2022 Medal of Good Citizenship.

Rice has been the executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre for the past five years, after serving for 14 years as the volunteer board chair. The centre was in debt before Rice was chair, but it now has an operating budget of $8 million with three buildings for affordable housing.

Rice organizes the annual Back to School Picnic, which gave school supplies to approximately 3,500 Indigenous children in 11 B.C. communities before the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is also on the board of Island Health and has served on the board of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, the Raven Indigenous Impact Foundation and at Camosun College.

Hira has been the executive director of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society since 2021. She has doubled its organizational revenue and increased staff by 35 per cent.

She helped secure over $4 million in provincial and federal support for the society’s newcomers’ programs and funding to open the first trauma-informed daycare in Canada.

Hira has also been the executive director of the Oasis Society for three years. She has obtained a record amount of funding for the non-profit organization, which serves Indigenous adults experiencing multi-generational trauma.

Marti, 13, is passionate about raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes, which he has been living with since he was five years old.

He has raised over $50,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Help Fill A Dream by doing handstands, selling lemonade and during other various fundraisers including bottle drives.

“I was very shocked when my parents told me about the medal,” Marti said. “I had no idea. It was a big surprise. When I realized that it was significant, I was very honoured.”

There is even a scholarship in Marti’s name at Camosun College, which is awarded to a student who demonstrates community involvement and leadership.

There are 12 other British Columbians who will be receiving the 2022 medal. The entire list can be found here.

“It’s an honour to award these individuals with the Medal of Good Citizenship,” said Premier David Eby in a statement. “Each one of them embodies the traits of generosity, kindness and sacrifice for the benefit of others. Their actions touch so many lives, creating better communities throughout B.C. I commend each one of them. They are an example to all.”

The medals will be given out at various ceremonies throughout the province in 2023.

READ MORE: Victoria teen earns prestigious Diana Award for social work


 

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