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Six South Okanagan residents awarded Diamond Jubilee Medals

Marion (Mugs) McConnell holds her Diamond Jubilee medal at the Penticton Japanese Gardens Tuesday after receiving it from MP Dan Albas. She got the award for working the last four decades to instruct and promote yoga in the South Okanagan. A number of other local residents received similar medals at a ceremony later in the day at the Penticton City Hall. - Mark Brett/Western News
Marion (Mugs) McConnell holds her Diamond Jubilee medal at the Penticton Japanese Gardens Tuesday after receiving it from MP Dan Albas. She got the award for working the last four decades to instruct and promote yoga in the South Okanagan. A number of other local residents received similar medals at a ceremony later in the day at the Penticton City Hall.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Marion (Mugs) McConnell went from an inquisitive teen wondering about meditation to spreading the joys of yoga worldwide.

With over 40 years of selfless dedication to learning and teaching yoga, McConnell’s tireless effort is one of the primary reasons the South Okanagan enjoys such a vibrant and healthy yoga community. On Tuesday, she was given the Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“I’m humbled very much by this and it is pretty overwhelming,” said McConnell, who moved to Naramata in 1971 as a teen and lived in the area for over 30 years.

In recognition to outstanding contributions to the Okanagan region, McConnell, along with five other people, were presented with the Diamond Jubilee Medal. It was created in honour of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne.

McConnell was introduced to yoga in 1973 and instantly fell in love with it. Five years later she trained to become an instructor in the Bahamas and returned to Penticton to teach. She believes she has trained over 300 people worldwide to be instructors from as far as Norway by distance education to those right in the South Okanagan.

“I want people to meditate and understand the gifts yoga has other than just the physical body part. I feel really blessed people are wanting to learn that,” she said.

This week, Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas also presented the medals to South Okanagan residents from all walks of life who are being recognized for their significant contributions to communities or their achievements abroad that brought credit to Canada.

Nikos Theodosakis was one of those recognized as he works to improve the lives of others and inspire youths through the OliveUs Education Society. He has been involved in many different trades including musician, filmmaker, educator, speaker and entrepreneur. His passionate approach and take on education has touched the lives of children all over the world.

As the finance officer for the Penticton Kiwanis Housing Society, Ernie Schneider has positively affected many seniors in need and was honoured with the medal. The society has provided low-cost affordable housing for seniors for the last 50 years.

Sandra Henderson is another recipient who has positively impacted the community for years, donating her time to a variety of meaningful causes including Meals on Wheels.

For his achievements in public office and within the community, Gus Boersma was given the medal. He served as a mayor and alderman for the city of Fernie, councillor for Penticton, provincial president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the Lifetime Honourary Membership from the Penticton Chamber of Commerce.

Also given the medal is Deb Silk, the founder of CritterAid. Since 1992, the organization in Summerland has been a refuge for abused, unwanted and abandoned animals in the South Okanagan.

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