When Sharon Hurd picked up the phone a few weeks ago she was at first confused, then overwhelmed.
Prince George Cariboo MP Dick Harris was on the other end of the line and told Hurd she would be one of the recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.
"I was thinking, 'what is he phoning me for?, I don't think there's elections coming up,'" Hurd recalled Wednesday after receiving the award along with 11 others at a pair of morning ceremonies at Two Rivers Gallery. "Then he informed me and I was just overwhelmed."
Also receiving medals Wednesday were: Murry Krause, Peter Haring, June Haring, Penny Stewart, Renee Trepanier, Donalda Carson, Betty Kovacic, Shirley Gratton, Andrew Burton, Laura Sandberg and Betty-June Gair. Anne Martin will be receiving her medal on Thursday.
Hurd was recognized for her work with women and children's shelters and for the time she spends volunteering on the boards of various social service agencies in Prince George.
The medal, which was created this year to recognize the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation, will be handed out to about 60,000 Canadians for their service both at home and abroad.
Harris said he was honoured to both inform all the recipients of the achievement and to be part of the ceremony presenting them with the medals Wednesday.
"It was one of the real pleasant and rewarding things about being a Member of Parliament," Harris said. "You get to represent, in this case, the Queen and the Governor General, in a ceremony that recognizes very special people who have done very special things for their community."
Like many of the other recipients, Hurd was surprised to be considered for the medal.
"I feel so grateful, I do what I do because I love working and I love helping people, never for the recognition," she said. "When you get it, it's like, 'Oh, people are seeing what I'm doing.'"
Carson said she was both humbled and emotional after getting the award for her years of work in local hospice care. She said her time helping people in the late stages of life has been both a growing experience and rewarding -- and was her true calling.
"When I saw the job advertised (17 years ago), I knew that was my life work," she said. "I felt that I was in training for this job my whole life, both my experiences both personally and professionally."
Gratton received her medal in recognition of many years working with local heritage groups. The life-long resident of the region said Prince George has been good to her and she felt it was important to preserve the city's history.
Her love of history and Prince George was instilled early in life when she made a unique return to the city.
"I was born here, raised in Salmon Valley and I came home in a canoe that was dug out by the natives in Shelley," she said. "I lived on the river."
Harris said this group of honorees represented a broad cross-section of the community.
He was allotted 30 medals for constituents and after this week's ceremonies he still has seven or eight left to award by the end of the year.
He used a two-step process to select the medal winners from his riding. First he got a group of people involved in the community to come up with a long list of potential recipients then a second committee narrowed that down to a list of candidates.
Looking at the group who received their awards Wednesday, Harris couldn't help but to be inspired.
"It makes me and probably makes a lot of people realize, 'what more can I do?,'" he said. "These people are inspirational. They all have stories about how they began their quest to make it a better world."
The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal was created as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary the Queen's coronation.
The award aims to recognize Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have served their communities, their province or their country or have made an achievement internationally that brings credit to Canada.
Over the course of the jubilee year about 60,000 Canadians will receive the special award. Various government officials as well as partner agencies such as the Canadian Museums Association and the Canadian Teachers' Federation have been allotted a certain number of spots. Each organization chooses how it selects its own nominees. The program is administered by Governor General David Johnston.
The medal itself has a picture of the Queen on one side and a symbol recognizing the diamond anniversary on the other. The symbol consists of a crown and the letters EIIR inside a diamond, with Maple Leafs on the outside. It also has the phrase "long live the Queen" in latin: "Vivat Regina." It comes on a red, white and blue ribbon.
The Diamond Jubilee medal falls under the commemorative medals section in the order of precedence of Canadian honours along with the Canadian Centennial medal as well of those recognizing the Queen's silver jubilee, Canada's 125th birthday and the Queen's golden jubilee.