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Women and Children’s Advocate, Railway Historian Honored With Medals

Sandy Vander Ziel (left) receives her Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medal from Member of the Legislative Assembly Miranda Rosin; Hans Huizinga speaks at the Northern Alberta Pioneers & Descendents Association’s presentation of medals.

At the end of January two more Christian Reformed church members in Alberta were honored with Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medals, in recognition of their service to their communities. The medal program launched last February in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign and to commemorate her dedication to service. Several Canadian provinces issued medals to community-involved citizens over the past year. In November and December three CRC members in western provinces received the recognition. A total of 7,000 medals have been presented in Alberta.

On Monday, Jan. 23, Sandy A. Vander Ziel, a member of River Park Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alta., was presented the medal for volunteer service to the board of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, the board of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and chairing the board for Calgary Killarney Artistic Swim Club. Vander Ziel is also on the board of the Calgary Christian School Society and has spent a lot of time with Sonshine Community Services, an organization serving families affected by family violence in Calgary and area.

“It's important for everyone to give back to their community,” said Vander Ziel who is a lawyer working in family law. “If you are lucky enough to be able to serve in an area of your passion, it can be life-changing for both one's self and (for) those you serve.”

Vander Ziel was presented the award by the local Member of the Legislative Assembly for Banff-Kananaskis, Miranda Rosin. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Hans Huizinga, a member of Bethel CRC in Edmonton, Alta., also was honored with a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal. He was one of three to receive the medal that night, where the awards were presented to those who served to promote and protect various parts of Alberta’s provincial history. Huizinga has spent almost five decades with the Alberta Pioneer Railway Association, including serving as director. He also still regularly volunteers his time at the Alberta Train museum, working on restoration projects as well as in the archives. Huizinga serves also as a consultant to other museums and has documented and spoken on the history of railways developing Western Canada. “I am glad that service made a difference,” he said.  

Huizinga also became a founding member of the Alberta Grain Elevator Society in 2001, and since 2003 has served as its president. This role has him promoting the preservation and restoration of Alberta's wooden grain elevators, many of which have been turned into industrial museums all over the province.

Huizinga is also the grandfather of this reporter's wife. 


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