AVCP honors President's Award Recipients
Chief of Police James Hoelscher for Hooper Bay receives the Law Enforcement Award from Myron Naneng, President of AVCP during the 49th Annual AVCP Convention. Also in photo are Commissioner of Public Safety Joe Masters and a member of his staff. photo by Greg Lincoln
The AVCP 49th Annual Convention was held last week October 11-13. The theme this year was “Celebrate our Culture to Enhance our Future.” Tribal leaders met to hear reports from the congressional delegation, our region’s legislative panel, AFN President Julie Kitka, and AVCPs administration. Delegates also heard about issues concerning subsistence, regional energy concerns, business development, IRR projects, public safety, and reports from regional organizations.
Also recognized were the AVCP President's Awards winners. The awardees were recognized during the last day of the AVCP Convention.
“One of the things that they do at the AFN convention is to recognize people within the State of Alaska. As a regional organization I think we do need to do more to recognize our own people. Yup’ut recognize-arluki caliaritgun, kingunemteneng kingunengqelriit,” said President Myron Naneng. The honorees are as follows.
Culture Bearer: John Pingayak, Chevak. John Pingayak graduated from St. Mary’s mission in 1970. He went to college to become a teacher at the Kashunamiut School District. After 30 years of teaching, he retired last year. He has worked hard to keep the culture alive through yuraq, qanemcit, and elders in the school.
Education: Panigkaq Agatha John-Shields, Toksook Bay. Agatha has worked in the education field since graduating from UAF. She is the 8th child of Paul and Martina John. She has 6 children with her husband Sam. She has worked a teacher and a principal at the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik Immersion School where she strove to preserve the Yup’ik language.
Elder of the Year: Nacailnguq George Billy, Napakiak. Each Sunday George gets on the VHF to talk about yuuyaraput, sharing his wisdom and giving advice ellangcarilriacetun yugtun to everyone along the Kuskokwim that can hear him on the radio.
Health: Moses Fredericks, Akiachak. Moses comes from a family of 8. He is married to Mary and they have 6 children. He’s been a health aide for many years since the 1970s. “I will accept this award on behalf of all health aides and former health aides. Thank you to my wife, and to the YKHC CHAP Program,” said Moses.
Hunter/Fisher: Ben Nukusuk of Hooper Bay. He is the son of Paul and Maryann Nukusuk. He was born in 1967 and is the firstborn of 14 children. He grew up in Naparyarmiut. He has 3 daughters and 1 son. It is his dream to become a commercial pilot. Ben is a former VPSO. An avid hunter and fisher, he never fails to share his catch with his family and others.
Youth Leadership: Lynn Church of Quinhagak. Lynn is the daughter of Willard and Mary Church, the youngest of 5 children and is studying civil engineering at the University of Alaska. She will be honored by the Calista Foundation during AFN.
Parents of the Year: Eddie and Nellie Noatak of Akiachak. Born in 1936 to Nelson and Lucy Noatak of Akiachak, Eddie went to school in Akiachak. Nellie was born in Akiak to Carrie Lake Kasayulie in 1940. She attended school at the BIA school in Akiak. Back then marriages were arranged. The two were married by Joshua Maqista Phillip in 1960.
Public Service: Darlene R. Johnson Edwards of Emmonak. She is the daughter of Jacob and Eunice Johnson of Emmonak and the granddaughter of Axel and Pearlie Johnson of Emmonak and Donald and Zena Hunter of Marshall. She is married to Cyprian Edwards. They have 5 children. She graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in 1989 and achieved her AA degree from UAF in 2002. She has worked as a magistrate since 2001 in Emmonak, Nunam Iqua, Kotlik, and Alakanuk. She has helped other public servants such as state troopers, VPSOs, public defenders, the district attorney, city managers, and tribal councils. She volunteers and helps during times of need such as during funerals and is also a commercial fisherwoman and enjoys working on fish during the summer.
Small Business: Jung’s Store, Napakiak. This business was nominated for their many years of operation in their village and for helping their community and others in need.
Law Enforcement: Max Olick Sr. of Kwethluk. Max is the oldest VPSO in the state of Alaska. He was nominated by his fellow VPSOs for his many years of service. “I am humbled by this award,” he said. “I wish I had another 20 years to serve my people on the Kuskokwim. On behalf of AVCP and fellow officers, I accept this award. Quyanaqvaa.”
Law Enforcement: James Hoelscher of Hooper Bay. James is the oldest of 6 in his family. He is a certified police officer and the Chief of Police in his community. “I really wouldn’t be where I am at without the support of my community, my peers, my coworkers. I owe a lot of who I am and what I do to my friends, my family, the support that my wife and my kids give me - I would not be able to do this without them. I know these guys are in the same boat,” he said. “What I would ask of all of you, if you don’t have a VPSO and you want law enforcement in your community there’s positions available for VPSOs. It is one step forward to making your community a safer place - having a trained individual in your community to serve you and your needs. They will assist with fire, search and rescue, police, EMS services. If you do have a VPSO or you plan on getting one, another thing I will ask is if you will support them. The bottom line is we are part of the community also. Oftentimes I think that is forgotten and a lot of times I feel myself personally and I know a lot of my coworkers do feel shunned because of the work that we do. But what it boils down to is we are doing this for the safety of our communities and I thank you for this opportunity.”
Special Recognition: Senator Lyman and Lillian Hoffman, Bethel.