Kewachuk to receive Sovereign’s Medal from governor general

For her work with Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash

Published on October 26, 2016
Teresa Kewachuk, who has become the heart and soul of Thinkers Lodge since moving back to Pugwash in 2012, will receive the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

PUGWASH – Teresa Kewachuk can feel the history every time she walks into Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash.

The Pugwash social studies teacher has volunteered for several years at the national historic site on the village’s waterfront and her efforts have not gone unrecognized. She was notified recently that she will receive the Sovereign’s Medal from Gov. Gen. David Johnston at a ceremony, probably in 2017 which concides with the 60th anniversary of the first Pugwash Conference in July 1957.

“It’s really humbling because there are so many volunteers out there doing wonderful things for their communities,” Kewachuk said. “There are a lot of people contributing hours and hours of their time.”

The Sovereign Medal for Volunteers recognized exception volunteer achievements for Canadians. It replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.

Upon moving back to Pugwash in 2012, Kewachuk visited Thinkers Lodge with her high school social studies students. She said she walked in like a tourist and was amazed at what she experienced.

“When all that history is concentrated you are really wowed by it,” she said, adding it’s wonderful to see people’s reactions when touring the building. “I started to volunteer and was so impressed with the people who already volunteer, people like the Eaton family. I started volunteering more and more and started bringing my classes down to the lodge so they could see the role it played during the Cold War.”

Kewachuk said Thinkers Lodge and that of the Pugwash Conferences is sometimes appreciated more by people from outside Nova Scotia. She said tourists have come from Europe or further just to see the lodge and some are moved to tears at seeing the Nobel Peace Prize won by Dr. Joseph Rotblat in 1995.

She met Rotblat as a young person and was awed by his mission to promote peace in the world.

Cyrus Eaton’s grandson, John, said Kewachuk has become the heart and soul of Thinkers Lodge. She serves both as the onsite manager of the birthplace of the effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons and as the director of volunteer and intern services at the facility.

“In these capacities she is directly responsible for ensuring the preservation of the historic site and for developing and managing programs and events that both honour the legacy of Thinkers Lodge and provide local community services, engagement and education,” Eaton said.

Eaton said Kewachuk has used her teaching skills to educate, train and mentor three student interns each summer and one of her greatest accomplishments has been to help these young people grow while learning about international and local history and to acquire communication and problem-solving skills as they learn to work as a team.

She has also organized dances, lobster chowder feeds and music events and has put together a team of local volunteers who stand ready to manage and host various events and special projects – such as a special abilities ramp to the Lobster Factory and another to build benches for its deck.

“She has been the inspiration for the community to build a sense of pride and accomplishment around their own contributions to the success of Thinkers Lodge as both a treasured landmark and a community resource,” he said.

Eaton said Kewachuk has also continued the legacy of conferences and retreats dedicated to solving the thorny international problems of our time. She has been instrumental in building the Nova Scotia Voice of Women program called the PeacemakeHers Camp – aimed at young women who have the opportunity to study and think about issues of peace from a women’s perspective.

“One of the lessons of Thinkers Lodge and the historic conference of 1957 is that big things can happen in small places and that one person can make a difference,” Eaton said. “Theresa is making a difference in her community, in Nova Scotia education and the world peace movement. Most importantly, she is modeling how to make a difference and inspiring students and visitors alike to become active, engaged citizens who freely give of their own time to make the work a better place.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell