Paul Delorey has been named Hay River’s Citizen of the Year.
Delorey was honoured for his many contributions to the community, most notably as an MLA and as a curling player, coach, volunteer and fundraiser.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a member of this community,” he said as he accepted the award from the Town of Hay River at theHay River Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala March 2.
Glenn Smith, the assistant senior administrative officer with the town, announced Delorey as the Citizen of the Year.
Smith said the honour for Delorey is not defined by a single year, but by many decades of dedication to the community since he permanently moved to Hay River in 1971.
Those contributions include being one of the founders of LobsterFest in 1987, an event which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community over the years.
That still doesn’t match the success of Chase the Ace, the community’s most successful fundraiser, said Smith, referring to the first such lottery in Hay River a couple of years ago.
“Our Citizen of the Year brought forward the idea of Chase the Ace as a fundraiser for the Hay River Curling Club. Forty-three drawn cards later, and over $700,000 was raised for our curling club, helping to ensure a stable future for the club.”
Delorey has been a prominent volunteer with the curling club for decades, including as the head icemaker since 2011 and a curling coach for nearly 40 years.
As a curler, he has competed in numerous national competitions, including as a member of the gold-medal-winning mixed team at the 2016 Canada 55-Plus Games.
In addition, he once coached the NWT women’s team at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.
Delorey was also once the first runner-up as the volunteer of the year for the whole country with the Canadian Curling Association.
“Our Citizen of the Year is a community ambassador,” said Smith. “He has a passion for our community and has represented us well through various types of activities.”
Delorey was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1999 as the MLA for Hay River North and served three terms, and was also elected Speaker of the legislature.
“Finally, our Citizen of the Year is a role model,” said Smith. “While he has dedicated tireless hours of volunteering and carried the town flag through many of his activities, it is the Citizen of the Year’s personality and conduct through these activities that makes him a role model for all.”
Smith – who became emotional at times while describing the contributions of Delorey – called him the hardest worker he knows, and a person who has a relentless approach to getting things done.
Noting that Delorey is dealing with health issues, Smith said, “But he continues to go out every day and do something for his family, his friends and the community he loves…. It is this dedication that we should all hope to adopt in our own lives.”
Delorey, who was also emotional at times, said that everything Smith mentioned has been important to him.
“And so important to how I feel about Hay River and the future of Hay River and the future of Hay River’s kids growing up in a good environment,” he said. “That’s what it’s all been about for me.”
Delorey said no one will be surprised by his love of curling.
“I am so utterly amazed and proud of what we’ve accomplish over the few years with Chase the Ace and what we have now for a curling club,” he said.
At the Chamber of Commerce gala, Randy West-Pratt was also honoured with the Customer Service Excellence Award.
West-Pratt is manager of Tri R Recycling.
The award winner explained he has an easy philosophy for customer service.
“Treat people the way you’d like to be treated, and it’s not a hard job,” he said.
The guest speaker at the gala was Tracy St. Denis, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.