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Millie Walsh of Fleur de Lys receives Senate 150th Anniversary Medal

Millie Walsh of Fleur De Lys shows the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal she recently received.
Millie Walsh of Fleur De Lys shows the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal she recently received. - Coretta Stacey photo

FLEUR DE LYS, NL — Mille Walsh has heard many people refer to volunteering as a thankless job.

For her, nothing could be further from the truth.

In terms of giving back to a community, the Fleur De Lys woman can be trusted on her word.

Walsh is a former mayor with 30-plus years of council experience. She helped establish the Dorset Eskimo Carving Committee, which led to the development of a museum in the town.

She sat on regional economic development boards and the French Shore Committee to grow and strengthen the region, and displayed her artistic side by writing plays for community drama – just as she showed her hard-nosed attitude in defending the seal industry.

In 2012, Walsh received the Diamond Jubilee Medal, which honours significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.


Millie Walsh of Fleur De Lys shows the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal she recently received. - Coretta Stacey photo
Millie Walsh of Fleur De Lys shows the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal she recently received. - Coretta Stacey photo


Last month, the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal was added to her accolades.
She was one of six Newfoundlander and Labradorians recognized by Senator David Wells for their incredible contributions to their province.

“I was really surprised,” Walsh said from her home this week. “I was just amazed. It was the last thing I expected.”

The call came out of the blue, she recalled, but she kept the news to herself.

“I didn’t want to bring much attention to it,” she said. “There are lots of volunteers out there, on the island and in the country, and we all do things.”

Walsh said leaders are not necessarily born to volunteer, but it is something that develops over time. People make a conscious decision to do so — granted some are better at it than others, she acknowledged.

“I think it is a sense of responsibility that comes with living in small communities,” she said. “I have always felt that way. It’s part of who I am, of who myself and George (her late husband) were, all our lives and the kind of families we came from — people who gave back to the community.”

Volunteering is reward enough for Walsh. When you dedicate your time to a cause or initiative, she said one can see the fruits of their labour. Also, working with others is an educational experience, she said.

“I think you leave behind some sort of legacy that people can learn from.”

Solace in helping others

The murder of Walsh’s daughter Samantha at the age of 13 in February 2000 had a lasting impact on her life. While it defined who she became, she didn’t let it drag her down into becoming somebody she would never want to be.
She kept volunteering, giving back to the community that supported her so much in forging ahead despite the heavy pain and suffering, and finding solace in helping others.

“I could’ve crawled in a hole, both George and I, at the time,” she said. “I just thought, you can’t give up on everything. I thought by becoming and staying involved in community affairs, it was helpful for me.

“People are good … generally, so good. It just really helped me work my way to where I am today.”

A teacher by profession, Walsh still teaches long after being eligible for retirement. It is something she is planning to soon walk away from, but she never felt the profession passed her by.

While it is a paying job, she said being a teacher goes way beyond a salary.

“It’s taking care of children’s emotional and social needs, as well as the educational aspect,” she said. “That’s where I find my greatest passion and joy – it is in the classroom.

“It is trying to make a small difference in a child’s life. If it is one (child), you have accomplished the reason why you chose the field you are into.”

It would be hard to believe the list is not a lot longer than one.

The Senate 150th Anniversary Medal

The Senate 150th Anniversary Medal commemorates the first time senators came to Ottawa to sit in Parliament on Nov. 6, 1867.
The medals are awarded to Canadians or permanent residents who are actively involved in their communities and who – through generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work – make their hometowns, communities, regions, provinces or territories a better place to live.

The front of the medal features the Senate’s badge; the reverse side depicts the Senate Chamber. A space is provided to inscribe the name of the recipient.

The medal was designed by Lt.-Col. Carl Gauthier, director of honours and recognition at the Department of National Defence, the organization responsible for much of the work that goes into honouring the extraordinary men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Senators each received 12 medals to award in their regions.

About the medals:

  • Medals measure 7.6 centimetres (three inches) in diameter and are seven millimetres (one-quarter inch) thick, which is the same size as the Confederation Medal 1867.
  • They are made from Muntz metal, an alloy comprised of bronze, copper and zinc.
  • The finish of the medal is matte in bronze.

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