IPS Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Mackenzie

In honour of Volunteer Appreciation Week and to recognize the hardworking volunteers supporting our work at Indigenous Perspectives Society: Centre of Excellence in Community Education (IPS), I connected with Catherine, one of our regular IPS volunteers to learn more about her. Catherine is a neighbor to one of our staff members, who has offered her time, over the past five years, to assist with a number of important tasks that help to keep us organized at the office. She is our behind-the-scenes office helper and trusted shredder. Catherine says that she finds shredding therapeutic. She has also spent time erasing footage off 100 discs for us to re-use. As a green organization, IPS re-uses and recycles materials we no longer need. Catherine helps us separate the plastic and metal pieces of old computer discs for recycling. While engaged in this task, Catherine says that she reflects on life in other countries where young children do this work to make a living and survive. She has also handed out prepackaged food at an event for IPS. During her career, Catherine worked for 40 years in office administration. Catherine says she doesn’t have anything to complain about and that her life is good. She is now retired and dedicates her time to voluntary support work. Though Catherine enjoys volunteering, she says she hopes she is not taking away a paid opportunity for young folks and is mindful of that when taking up these spaces. We are very grateful to have her help at IPS and for all that she does in the community!

Catherine has also received her 10-year pin for volunteering for the Royal B.C. Museum where she worked at the coat check service counter. She says that she enjoys meeting people, hearing their stories, and learning about where they’re from. Catherine spoke about how before the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the volunteers at the Royal B.C. Museum were seniors. When the pandemic began, older volunteers were no longer allowed to assist with coat checks due to B.C. health restrictions. She hopes to return to volunteer there again, when and if the opportunity arises. Some of Catherine’s other volunteer experiences included taking information at a table from people that wanted to see a minister, and volunteering for the Salvation Army, Red Shield Campaign.

Catherine has a long history of volunteer experience, as it has been a part of her life since she was a young girl. Catherine spoke about how her parents taught her to give back to communities when she was growing up. Her mother used to say, ‘It doesn’t matter if someone pays 50¢ or $5, as long as people are contributing it all adds up.’ Catherine spoke about how her mother was part of a group that would help low-income families during the 1950’s, before government low-income assistance existed. The community group would help with food and gifts of dolls and baseball bats during the holidays. Now, more than ever, we want to express our deep appreciation for Catherine and all volunteers who give their time and energy to support us and others. Volunteering is a precious gift for organizations like IPS to receive from members of our community. We thank Catherine for all her efforts in supporting our work and we celebrate all volunteers who are willing and able to give back to their communities.

Catherine Mackenzie