Royal Pur­ple na­tional pres­i­dent from Prince Ge­orge

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Frank PEE­BLES Cit­i­zen staff fpee­[email protected]­i­t­i­

One of Canada’s youngest benev­o­lent so­ci­eties is also one of the old­est, and it cel­e­brates two mile­stones in Prince Ge­orge.

It also wel­comes a new pres­i­dent and it is a home­town comin­gout for in­com­ing na­tional leader Jan Gam­mie.

The Cana­dian Royal Pur­ple So­ci­ety (CRPS) turns five years old this week­end at their an­nual gen­eral meet­ing. If that name sounds too fa­mil­iar for such a new group, that is be­cause they rein­vented them­selves after 100 years of prior phi­lan­thropy.

In 1914 the Royal Pur­ple was the fe­male aux­il­iary to the all-male Elks Club of Canada, com­plete with their own uni­form and nearly re­li­gious ad­her­ence to rit­u­als and for­mal rites of oper­a­tion. When the public no longer ac­cepted gen­der di­vi­sions in their com­mu­nity in­sti­tu­tions, and de­vel­oped an aver­sion to cer­e­mo­nial pro­to­cols, a choice had to be made by the Royal Pur­ple. Start­ing to­day, Prince Ge­orge is the site for the re­sult of that de­ci­sion. In 2014 the CRPS was born, when the old or­ga­ni­za­tion opted to turn them­selves into an in­de­pen­dent, all-gen­ders, all-ages (mem­ber­ship starts at 14 years old), all-in­clu­sive new char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion. Each chap­ter still en­joys a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship with the Elks Club, they still use pur­ple as a theme colour, but they are free to raise money or vol­un­teer hours for which­ever causes mat­ter most to their lo­cal mem­ber­ship.

That flex­i­bil­ity and sky-is-the­limit phi­los­o­phy is what at­tracted Gam­mie into the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I joined Royal Pur­ple in 2009, and in 2010 I was cho­sen to be on the fi­nance com­mit­tee and it sort of snow­balled from there,” Gam­mie said. “I took an in­ter­est in the in­ner work­ings of Royal Pur­ple. I was very im­pressed with the past pres­i­dents and what they had done and I wanted to try to do the same.”

One of those will soon be Kelly Christ­man, the out­go­ing pres­i­dent who hands over the chair to Gam­mie at this week­end’s AGM.

“I saw my role as bring­ing for­ward the in­for­ma­tion about the Cana­dian Royal Pur­ple and how it is evolv­ing. That’s still a story that needs to be told,” said Christ­man, who has 17 years of ser­vice with the Royal Pur­ple. “We have a 100 year old foun­da­tion and for five years we have built a new ver­sion on top of that. We al­lowed our­selves to evolve and change. As vol­un­teerism changes, so to must our or­ga­ni­za­tion. Vol­un­teerism looks and feels a lot dif­fer­ent than 100 years ago, so if we want to re­main vi­able and keep at­tract­ing vol­un­teers, we have to keep evolv­ing how we do our busi­ness. This is not about us, it is about the com­mu­ni­ties. It is more im­por­tant to serve com­mu­ni­ties than serve old rit­u­als.”

When the BC branch of the CRPS held its pro­vin­cial AGM this past year in Williams Lake, Christ­man was in at­ten­dance, pass­ing through Prince Ge­orge in the process. She was awed by Aberdeen Glen Golf Course on that visit and looks for­ward to see­ing it again, in amongst the of­fi­cial du­ties of this na­tional set of meet­ings. She is driv­ing here from her home in Bas­sano, Al­berta in the ru­ral mid­dle be­tween Calgary and Medicine Hat.

Christ­man’s res­i­den­tial lo­ca­tion is proof, said Gam­mie, that the CRPS re­ally is an or­ga­ni­za­tion for all. She feels no trep­i­da­tion about tak­ing on the na­tional pres­i­dency, with all of the travel ameni­ties Prince Ge­orge has to of­fer.

“I know travel is a part of the job, but Prince Ge­orge is such a well con­nected place, with our air­port and our high­ways go­ing just about ev­ery­where,” Gam­mie said.

“I think my main goal as pres­i­dent is to be a voice, not an echo. Lets get Royal Pur­ple’s voice out into the public. Let’s let peo­ple know­ing that we are here, we are mod­ern­ized, and we are there to help the com­mu­nity – all com­mu­ni­ties. We are such a fun-lov­ing, dy­namic group of peo­ple that they’ll want to join and be­come part of us. We do have lots of fun, and we do a lot of great work.”

In ad­di­tion to Bas­sano, past pres­i­dents of the CRPS have also come from Kam­loops, Sault Ste. Marie, and Cut Knife, Saskatchew­an. Now Prince Ge­orge is added to that list. It was a co­in­ci­dence that this city hap­pened to win the bid to host the na­tional AGM the same year Gam­mie was to be in­stalled as pres­i­dent, so that adds a touch of ner­vous­ness, she said, but she is anx­ious to take on the job and spread the pur­ple haze of char­ity and vol­un­teerism across Canada.


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