A North Grenville resident received one of the country’s highest honours for volunteerism last week for his lengthy career as a leader with Scouts Canada. John Pereira immigrated to Canada from Portugal when he was only six-years-old. Prior to that, he was living in Mozambique where his parents owned a successful variety store. Unfortunately, he and his family were forced to flee the country because of political and social unrest in 1976.
As soon as John was 18, he became a Canadian citizen and joined the military. He wanted to give back to a country which had welcomed his family during their time of need. He also felt connected to the military, because it was British troops that saved his mother and brother when they were infected with malaria while they were still living in Mozambique. “We drove to Malawi to get help from British armed forces,” he remembers. “They survived because of them.”
His will to give back was also what made him get involved with the Scouts 25 years ago. John has reached out to the scouting group in every town or city where he has been posted, and volunteered to become a leader. He has worked primarily with the Cub Scouts, because he enjoys the 8-10 year-old age group. He is dedicated to the Scouts and has even kept in touch with his Cub Scout packs through three tours overseas. “I like to be part of the whole process of developing kids to be the best they can be,” he says.
When John moved to Kemptville in 2017, he started as a leader with the 2nd Kemptville Cub Scout Pack. He is very impressed with the leadership and the membership of the group in Kemptville, and he is really enjoying his time with them. “All this gives back to Canada and the community,” he says. “I really want to help out as much as I can.”
John was very surprised when he heard that he was going to be awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General’s Office. “I was taken aback,” he says. “I’ve been recognised for other things with the Scouts, but never on a national level.”
According to the Governor General’s website, the medal recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians who have made significant, sustained and unpaid contributions to their community. A person must be nominated by their peers, and there is a significant vetting process to decide who will receive the medal.
John was presented his medal, which he will wear on his military uniform, at a special ceremony at his workplace last Wednesday. “There are so many people I have worked with who deserve [this medal],” he says. “Now that I know it exists, I might nominate someone myself.”