Governor General Julie Payette, centre, with Paul and Terry Nichols of Quesnel. Contributed photo

B.C. couple honoured with Meritorious Service Medals

Paul and Terry Nichols were recognized by Governor General Julie Payette Feb. 28 in Ottawa

  • Mar. 13, 2018 2:30 p.m.

Lindsay Chung

Observer Contributor

A Quesnel couple recently received a prestigious honour for the work they have done, and continue to do, to support veterans and serving members of the military.

Governor General Julie Payette presented Paul and Terry Nichols with Meritorious Service Medals (Civil Division) during a ceremony Feb. 28 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. They are two of 48 Canadians who were honoured that day, and two of four recipients of Meritorious Service Medals in the Civil Division.

Recognized for “their excellence, courage and exceptional service to the Canadian Armed Forces and to various military organizations,” 48 recipients were presented with Meritorious Service Decorations in the Military Division and the Civil Division, Decorations for Bravery or the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

“I felt very honoured to be among that group of recipients because when we heard people’s stories and looked around the room, it was amazing to be thought of in the same regard as the other incredible people who were there,” says Terry.

“The thing that really stands out for me is that this wasn’t a typical Meritorious Service Decoration ceremony,” says Paul.

“They mixed the Civil and the Military Meritorious Service [Decorations] presentations, but they kept the theme as military or civilians actively supporting serving military, and it brought the two groups together. It really helped confirm for me that we’re on the right track – and that wasn’t so much because of the medal presentation, but the networking and the conversations we had afterward.”

Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division) are given to recognize remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour, from advocacy initiatives and health care services, to research and humanitarian efforts, according to the Governor General’s website. Recipients are nominated for the honour by fellow Canadians.

The citation for Paul and Terry reads: “After struggling to come to terms with his experience while serving on a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia, military veteran Paul Nichols found healing through equine-assisted therapy. He and his wife, Terry, organized The Ride Across Canada, a 211-day trek on horseback that offered local veterans the opportunity to experience the positive effects of equine therapy while connecting with Canadians along the way. Drawing from the ride’s success, the Nichols now offer specialized, equine-assisted mindfulness therapy to veterans at their home ranch in B.C.’s Cariboo region.”

The Nicholses founded the Communities for Veterans Foundation in 2014 and completed The Ride Across Canada in 2015, with the goal of bridging the gap between civilian and military cultures and creating awareness about contemporary veterans in Canada. They have been developing an Equine Assisted Mindfulness program for veterans at Pen-Y-Bryn Farm in Kersley and are currently preparing to offer The Forge Programs, residential therapy programs incorporating Equine Assisted Mindfulness that are designed to support and treat people experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Operational Stress Injuries, this spring and summer.

“It helped reinforce that we’re on the right path and we’re doing work that is important and needs to be done,” Terry says of the honour.

“After people had heard our story, then we heard so much appreciation from the members of the military who were there.”

Rob LaFrance is a member of an organization that supported the Nicholses’ nomination and describes Paul and Terry as “very giving people that do not ask or expect anything in return with whatever they are doing.”

“I live in the community of Quesnel and feel so very proud that Paul and Terry live in my community,” he says.

“I have supported Paul and Terry with their Ride Across Canada from the beginning through moral support and fundraising, as it is amazing to see veterans show up at Pen-Y-Bryn Farm. The veterans don’t arrive demanding or expecting anything, just wanting some assistance with PTSD. To see the transition of when the veterans arrive to partway through their visit and to when they leave – you don’t see any fireworks or material things, but you can see a positive change in the veterans.

“Paul and Terry just want to help the veterans and make a difference. Even when veterans make contact and want to participate in the program but have no way of paying for transportation, Paul and Terry try to find a way to find funding or transportation so they can help the veterans.”

Terry and Paul flew to Ottawa to receive their medals in a formal ceremony at Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the governor general, and they were both very grateful to have a chance experience the history and tradition at Rideau Hall and to share that with their family members who have been there from the beginning.

“Terry and I received the medals for it, but there’s no way we could have achieved what we did with the Ride and the work we continue to do and work with veterans [alone],” says Paul, adding it was “incredible” to have their daughters and their partners with him.

“That was the most special part for me, having our group together,” says Terry.

Paul and Terry were both impressed by Julie Payette, who was installed as the 29th governor general of Canada Oct. 2, 2017.

“I was quite taken with the governor general,” comments Terry.

“She had a soft-spoken voice for her speeches, but she was so poised and had the audience captured with her really thoughtful words.”

“She’s a pretty powerful woman, and it’s not because she’s loud,” says Paul.

“She has this amazing ability to set the crowd at ease, and you hang on her every word.”

Just Posted

Playmor Junction daycare expansion faces opposition

Neighbours upset with rezoning application, citing traffic, noise and concerns about future uses

Commercial repair shop moving to Castlegar

Bill’s Heavy Duty is expanding into a space near the West Kootenay Regional Airport.

Castlegar fire chief pleased with Columbia Ave. emergency vehicle plan

CFD can communicate directly with traffic control personnel through a dedicated radio frequency.

Gas leak not caused by worker error: Marwest

Tuesday’s leak investigated by Marwest and WorkSafeBC

UPDATE: Nelson man who swam naked with sharks arrested

David Weaver, 37, will face mischief and assault charges

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Most Read