Recent History – 1999
March 17, 1999
By Daily News Staff
A man who was an integral part of Dawson Creek society for many years passed away Sunday. Al Westcott, former Dawson Creek citizen of the year and member of the Order of Canada died at age 74. Westcott was extremely active in many local organizations during his life, and his presence will be missed by many in the community.
His selfless attitude was displayed when he was awarded as the cityÕs citizen of the year in 1988. “No one person can be a success. Rather it is the people you work with that make you a success and some of the very best are in this room tonight,” he said when receiving the award.
The following year, Westcott was made a member of the Order of Canada. He was recognized by the federal government for his tireless volunteer work with disabled and mentally handicapped people in many Canadian communities. This award was followed in 1992 with the Commemorative Medal of the Confederation of Canada.
According to information provided by his family, Westcott was born in 1924 in Vancouver. At 19, he enlisted in the Canadian Army, and served in the Italian campaign and the liberation of Holland. He was decorated numerous times by the military, and developed a deep affection for the people of Holland. He returned later with his wife Ruth to celebrate their marriage.
After returning to Canada, Westcott enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where he earned a B.A. and later a Masters degree in Social Work. Upon graduation, Westcott began to work for several federal and provincial agencies, and was a federal citizenship officer in Edmonton during a time when his position served the bulk of Western Canada.
Because he treated applicants with respect and dignity, many of them would travel great distance to have him perform their citizenship ceremony.
Westcott continued his public service in Ontario and Saskatchewan, where he became the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Council of Crippled Children and Adults.
Later in Dawson Creek, Westcott became the Dean of Instruction at Northern Lights College, and a parole officer with Federal Corrections after his retirement.
Westcott was committed to making education accessible for all people and was instrumental in the development of outreach and distance education. This included extending vocational and academic programs to the urban an reserve-based aboriginal communities.
Westcott was a gifted writer and speaker, and was frequently invited to act as keynote speaker for a variety of workshops and conferences across Canada.
The awards and involvements that Westcott amassed through his life are far too numerous to mention, but his family members remember always being first.
Westcott would routinely make himself available for both the most significant and trivial discussions about life.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at South Peace United Church.
Al Westcott passed away Sunday after a lifelong support for the communities where he lived. Here are some of his involvements in Dawson Creek.
– 1988 Dawson Creek citizen of the year.
– Former Dean of Instruction at Northern Lights College.
– Board member of the Cerebral Palsy Association, and president of provincial board.
– Involved in building of the Child Development Centre, raised funds as chairman of resource development.
– President of Dawson Creek Assoc. for the mentally handicapped.
– President and one of the founders of channel 10 TV. Obtained equipment, volunteered as interviewer and announcer.
– Chaired the United Church Search Committee.
– President of the Obair Economic Society.
– Volunteer for Brownies and Guides.
– Campaign manager for Bill Winters.
– President of B.C. Winter Games during 1987-88.
– Volunteer for city at Kiwanis Trade Fair.
– Member of Shrine Club.
– Chairman of community committee to study needs of respite care for handicapped.
– Volunteer for Terry Fox run.
– Member of Dawson Creek Rotary Club and a strong supporter of the arts.
– Order of Canada, 1989, Commemorative Medal award