The last time Donald Fisher received a major award from the Canadian government, he was serving in Bermuda as Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The year was 1982 and his Canadian Forces Decoration award for his military service had arrived from Canada in the mail, and it was a foreign dignitary, the Governor of Bermuda, who pinned the medal on his chest.
Thursday he receives the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, on behalf of Governor General of Canada Julie Payette during a ceremony at Government House to honour a total of 44 British Columbians.
“Receiving this one from the Lieutenant Governor is another feather in the cap, so to speak,” he says, with a twinkle in his eyes.
Fisher sits in the lounge of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans (ANAVETS) Unit #302 in Sidney, as he recalls the episode, one of many during his 25 years of service. During his 25 years in navy, he never sailed the sea once, but nonetheless served in every corner of Canada and elsewhere, including the United States, and Bermuda, where Canada used to have a military presence.
Among his duties over the years, Fisher tracked Soviet signals as a communication specialist. And when he was not playing his part in the Cold War, Fisher was trying to make life better for his comrades by organizing baseball and curling games, bowling outings, and other social activities.
He continued this service after his retirement from the military through his work with ANAVETS, which he joined three years into his regular military service in 1963. He is also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion.
As a member of the Sidney unit since 1979, Fisher has given countless hours to its membership, currently consisting of 700 members. He has been serving as the unit’s Sergeant-At-Arms since 1988 (except for 2003) and sits on countless committees. He has organized numerous social events for both unit members and non-members, and chronicles the club’s activities as photographer, newsletter editor, and webmaster.
It is this commitment to Canada’s veterans, among other achievements, that earned Fisher the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, which recognizes the “exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields.”
The medal, according to an official release, incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, created in 1995, by then-governor general Roméo LeBlanc. “The medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers,” it reads.
Fisher certainly typifies.