Citizen of the Year puts disputes into perspective

"If anything can derail an argument that pits one group against another it’s saluting someone who has done so much for others..."

I was all set to wade into the quagmire that is the controversy surrounding a proposed new bridge in Trail.

I was all set to spout off an opinion, weigh in on the facts and the fallacies.

I was all set to do that until I went up to St. Michael’s School last night to see Tom McEwan honoured as the Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year.

If anything can derail an argument that pits one group against another it’s saluting someone who has done so much for others – a person who is constructive rather than destructive.

There is certainly no argument that Mr. McEwan was deserving of the special award. His dedication, kindness, sincerity and joyful outlook craft the blueprint for what we wish all citizens could be, including ourselves.

And perhaps those qualities rubbed off a bit on those in attendance.

The first thing that struck was that Trail and Warfield finally shared a common goal after an acrimonious last couple of months. Having both Trail and Warfield’s names on the award was definitely symbolic if not ironic.

While both sides of the divide came together to salute one of its citizens, maybe it’s a lesson dignitaries from both communities can take back to their respective councils when it comes to addressing the hurdles ahead.

As Brian Volpatti read off the long list of accomplishments, volunteer work and countless hours helping others by Mr. McEwan, maybe the lesson in it all is the bottom line why we love this region so much – that sense of community and our desire to help sustain it.

It’s why Tom and Edie McEwan raised a family here. It’s why they opened their home and spread the feeling of family wherever they went. It’s why so many people have been impacted by Mr. McEwan’s lifetime of devotion.

It’s that sense of family and community that keeps him going all these years and the same reason our distinctive communities and citizens should be able to get on the same page.

It may sound all too “Shangri-La” for some. Others will say I need rose-coloured glasses to get that view. Some might even throw in the word “commodious” but I don’t think it fits this missive as well as it drew laughs on Tuesday.

But Tom McEwan proves day-in-day-out that it’s not an out-of-reach goal. He proves that it is rewarding to think about others before yourself. And he proves that it can be done even here in Trail and Warfield.

As with any dedicated volunteer, Mr. McEwan struggled when it came time to accept kudos for his accomplishments. He preferred to thank the help of people in his life from his wife, to his kids to his multitude of friends.

That’s what true volunteers do. It’s never about them; it’s always about someone else.

He probably would have been much more comfortable giving a standing ovation rather than receiving one.

So it came as no surprise that when the mike was open for comments from the floor, most of them spoke of the Citizen of the Year in a loving, admiring way while mixing in some good humoured jabs.

He never scored a pivotal goal, hoisted a trophy or made the pros but he represents many of the best qualities that the Home of Champions has to offer. Many of us wish our kids grow up to be the next star athlete from this cradle of sporting success but more of us should wish our kids grow up to be the type of person Mr. McEwan represents.

It may sound silly to say but I left the gathering wanting to be a better person.

I know I can never match the list of accomplishments that follow Mr. McEwan, and that certainly isn’t my goal.

But if in some small way I can make a little bit of the world a better place then that’s a step in the right direction.

And that’s probably all the thanks Tom McEwan would want.