Chuck Lirette has been honoured as the Hay River Citizen of the Year for 2020.
Lirette, a retired teacher, is the biathlon coach and trails co-ordinator with the Hay River Ski Club.
“I’m really humbled to be recognized because Hay River is such an amazing community,” he said when presented with the Alfred Mansell Citizen of the Year Award by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce on March 24.
Lirette noted there are countless other people in Hay River who should also be receiving the award.
“That will have a place of honour within our home,” he said. “I’m really touched.”
As it does every year, the Chamber of Commerce also presented the Customer Service Award, and this year’s winner is Kim Morin, a bartender/server at The Doghouse Sports Bar at The Ptarmigan Inn.
In accepting the award, Morin said she was humbled by the honour.
“I love my job. I love what I do,” she said. “And I enjoy my customers. I love my hometown. So I enjoy making people happy and making sure that they’re served properly and well, and everything is good.”
This year’s awards presentations did not include the usual gala because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Instead, about eight people gathered in a meeting room at The Ptarmigan Inn.
“Usually it’s a little bit more formal,” said Terry Rowe, the president of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce. “We have our gala each year where we invite anybody and everybody to come and have a nice dinner and present these awards to the very deserving award winners. This year with everything going on, we’ve decided to cancel the event, but we, of course, still wanted to do these awards.”
Rowe said the chamber received some very strong nominations.
“But the two of you are very well the most deserving,” he told the winners. “And we’re very happy that we can have you here today to award these.”
Lirette was nominated as Citizen of the Year by Tamarah Pellissey, who was on hand to talk about his contributions to Hay River.
“Chuck Lirette is a great person to receive this award for all he contributes to Hay River and the entire North,” she said. “He offers not only his time but also his kindness, commitment and motivational leadership.”
Pellissey noted that Lirette taught for 33 years in the North, including 20 years in Hay River, after being raised in Fort Resolution and Pine Point.
She listed his many contributions as a coach and sports official, including his involvement at the Arctic Winter Games, Canada Winter Games and NWT Track and Field Championships.
Pellissey also praised his volunteer commitment to the Hay River Ski Club as its biathlon coach and trails co-ordinator.
“Chuck spends countless hours packing and grooming our beautiful ski and snowshoe trails, often early mornings until late nights,” she noted.
In response to Pellissey’s tribute, Lirette noted that, when he was growing up in Fort Resolution and Pine Point, there were minor hockey coaches, Boy Scout leaders and teachers who had a big positive impact on him
“And I think that’s kind of what I hope that I’m doing here in Hay River,” he said.
Morin was nominated for the Customer Service Award by Greg Rowe.
“Kim has worked at The Ptarmigan Hotel in The Doghouse Pub for more than five years, and continues to be a leader in providing our guests with the highest level of customer service,” Rowe wrote in a letter read at the awards ceremony. “Her friendly and welcoming demeanour has made her a favourite of our regulars and her co-workers. Kim’s hard work and dedication make her a true professional in the field. Kim simply is the best when it comes to service.”