In 1948, two newlyweds moved to Squamish, a rugged coastal community with only boat access.
He was from Saskatchewan and had just finished his internship in medicine after graduating from the University of Toronto. She was from the Fraser Valley and had just completed her nursing studies in Vancouver.
He was, for many years, the only physician serving the corridor. This responsibility forged the young couple into a team that continues to provide leadership to our community 61 years later.
Dr. Laverne and Norma Kindree dispensed medical care wherever and whenever needed. House calls at all hours of the night were common. Dr. Kindree travelled by train weekly to heal residents of Pemberton. He then went on horseback to Mount Currie where he spent the night before starting the long journey back.
He would sometimes bring young patients back to live in their home during treatment. In the absence of other professionals, Dr. Kindree also served as coroner (longest serving in B.C. - 42 years), veterinarian and occasionally dentist. He has been the voice heralding and shepherding our community medical needs in every aspect including fundraising for, building and supporting our hospital, a passion that he pursues to this day.
He has served on every Health Council and with every Health Authority our area has created to ensure that our health care is not compromised. On the academic side, Dr. Kindree's research and documentation of Lyme disease from 1990-1995 resulted in it being declared endemic to B.C. This has allowed both diagnosis and treatment to occur in our province.
It certainly wasn't all easy. The young nurse and doctor were tested early in their careers when 1952 brought a formidable challenge. In a matter of weeks, 90 per cent of our local population contracted polio.
The community turned to their doctor for guidance. Norma and Laverne were also afflicted yet continued to treat patients throughout this frightening epidemic.
Thrust into these leadership roles, Dr. Kindree responded by contributing to much more than health care issues. As a founding member of the Board of Trade (now Chamber of Commerce) he led the initial campaign to have a road link between Squamish and Vancouver in a bid to increase local tourism and commercial enterprise.
He participated in the project to create Garibaldi Park. He challenged tax laws with the Supreme Court resulting in professionals being able to incorporate.
The organizations that Dr. Kindree has served are too numerous to list, but include 23 years as a municipal councillor (imagine!), eight years a director of the SLRD, 60 years with the Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, Royal Hudson Society, West Coast Railway Heritage Society, Boy Scouts Association, Charter member of the Squamish Rotary Club and many more.
Two years ago Norma and Laverne allowed the Rotary Club of Squamish to host a celebration in their honour. The community (and the Kindree family) responded by donating a total of over $200,000 to our Health Care Foundation.
As you might expect, awards have been plentiful and include a Certificate of Appreciation from Squamish Nation (he is an honourary member since 1999), original recipient of the Order of Squamish, Citizen of the Year (twice), Premiers Award for Community Achievement, Certificate of Service Award from the BC Health Association and the Queen's Jubilee Medal.
On Wednesday Aug. 5, in a small ceremony at their home, Dr. Kindree, was presented with the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada is the pinnacle of Canada's honours system and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The motto of the Order of Canada is Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam ("They desire a better country"). I can think of no more deserving recipient than Dr. Kindree.
Dr. Kindree is an inspiration, a role model and a wonderful friend to all. I, like many others, am honoured to know him and to have benefited from his leadership and advice.
On behalf of all residents of Squamish, congratulations Norma and Laverne, and thank you for everything you have done for us.