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OPINION: We have a lot to be proud of

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: We have a lot to be proud of
Terry Muir embraces Chamber President Shannon Lebrun as he accepts the 2020 Cornwall Citizen of the Year Award (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

It has been a busy week for many in Cornwall. On Friday, the Coronavirus quarantine began at the Nav Centre. Since this news was announced, there has been a lot of concern and fear and worry about Cornwall hosting this quarantine. The city has found itself once again, in an uncomfortable spotlight, but on the next day, Saturday, there was a different event, one that I feel brought some normalcy and highlighted the many reasons Cornwall has to celebrate.

This past weekend was the annual Chamber Business Excellence Awards dinner. For more than 30 years, this event has celebrated the best that Cornwall has had to offer. I’ve attended the past four of these awards dinners, and they are always memorable, but maybe because of everything else going on in town right now, this one felt special.

This year’s event saw a few new elements introduced, including multiple announced nominees, and being held at the Civic Complex made the event feel a little more casual, but cozy. The event was also filmed, which means that the whole community, the ones who have YourTV, will be able to share in a few special moments.

Let me just say, that all of the winners on Saturday night, were deserving in their own right. Each winner has accomplished amazing things in Cornwall and the surrounding area.

One special moment that stands out to me is when Rob and Ana Curran, the owners of Riley’s Bakery, were presented with the Lifetime Achievement in Business Award. Riley’s has been a treasured part of Cornwall for more than 100 years, and the Curran’s have been running the shop for 30. It was immediately evident to the whole room that this recognition meant a lot to the Currans, who received a standing ovation from the room. Everyone in that room knew the Riley’s name and I’m sure that many have had a stacked Riley’s sandwich. I know this writer has.

I was a little skeptical about the introduction of formal nominations this year. In past years, guests to the event knew who was going to win, save for the Citizen of the Year, but I felt that the nominations created some joyful surprises.

One such surprise was for Chris and Jordan O’Brien, who received the Above and Beyond Award. I saw the reaction on Jordan’s face when she realized they were the ones who were picked for the award and they were truly surprised. The couple, who own FreshCo, thanked the community and explained how welcomed they felt here when they came to Cornwall and the support they’ve received from the community as they’ve care for their daughter. The support they’ve received, they have given back in spades. The O’Briens have supported many causes in the community including the Agape Centre, and have most recently held a fundraiser for Terry Muir and his wife Wendy.

This brings me to what I feel is the crowning achievement of this event. Terry Muir was selected as the 2020 Citizen of the Year. Terry has been a volunteer in this community for decades. He has been involved in a wide variety of events, such as the annual Christmas Toy Drive. You see him everywhere. He has been recognized with the Governor General’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers. No one in that room doubted that Terry deserved this honour. Being held at the Civic Complex, in the hall right outside the room where the event was taking place, is the wall of past Citizens of the Year and there is no question that Terry belongs on that wall.

This honour meant a lot to Terry, who recently has been going through a rough time with his wife recently undergoing a serious medical procedure. Seeing Terry’s reaction was a very heartwarming moment, one that I believe Cornwall needed after a week filled with anxiety.
When Cornwall makes the regional or national news, it is often for something negative, like a quarantine, refugees, feral cats, etc., but we know better. We know that Cornwall has wonderful people in it who are doing wonderful things. Good job to the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and everyone who took part in the Business Excellence Awards for reminding us of all we have to be proud of.

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