Saskatchewan is recognizing residents of all ages, from all walks of life, that have made a significant contribution to society with the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
The medal was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne and is a way to honour the Queen’s service to Canada.
One recipient, set to receive the prestigious honour, is Hodgeville resident, Gale Hapanowicz.
Hapanowicz has been an active member of the community for many years, with her hard work and dedication to the Saskatchewan flag, and designer, Anthony Drake.
She and her husband made the move to Hodgeville around 2013, with the goal to convert the old school in Hodgeville into an Inn. It was then that she found herself immersed in the history of the Saskatchewan flag.
Hapanowicz learned that Drake had never been officially recognized as the flag’s creator and got to work tracking down the former Hodgeville teacher.
A year later, 47 years after designing the flag, Drake made the journey back to Saskatchewan from England, where his new friend surprised him with a tour across the province.
“In 2016 he came to for a visit and I surprised him with a 21-day tour,” she explained. “We went to 10 cities and towns all over Saskatchewan and we presented him in front of libraries and museums and schools. We did speeches, and we went to the Legislature building, then we spent time up in Brad Wall’s office, and we had tea with the Lieutenant governor.”
Drake returned to Saskatchewan again in 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the provincial flag.
The flag designer and Hapanowicz toured the province once again, where he was honoured as a VIP at a Saskatchewan Roughriders games, a VIP at the Moose Jaw Air Show, and much more.
His design was chosen in 1969 out of 4025 entries that were submitted for the contest.
The upper half of the flag represents the forested areas of the province, while the lower, gold half represents wheat fields.
The flag also incorporates the provincial flower, the Western Red Lilly, and the Shield of Arms, granted by King Edward VII 110 years ago.
Hapanowicz stated that after learning of Drake’s story, it wasn’t something she could ignore.
“He did receive $1,000 back then, which is probably like $15,000 today and there was an inaugural raising, but he couldn't come to that because he had to go back to England because he was took on a teaching job back home and so he left, so he never saw the inauguration of the flag,” she explained. “When we spoke the first couple of times, he told me a story; That him and his wife and two friends were at Trafalgar Square, at Canada House, and all the provincial flags are up, and so he said, ‘Oh, I designed that flag,’ and his friends said ‘No you didn't, you have no proof that you designed that, that's not even on our continent.
“So, he told me that story that broke my heart because he didn't have anything. He didn’t have a pin, he didn’t have a little flag, he had nothing, and it just broke my heart, so, I felt that we should recognize him. So, he came here just to visit us, my husband and I, and he didn't know he was going on a tour, and we took him on a big tour, and he raised his flag so many times. We laughed, we cried, it was just fantastic.
Sadly, Drake passed away, at the age of 81, in July 2022.
Hapanowicz added that she could hardly believe it when she was informed that she had been nominated for a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
“I realized it was real and I was flabbergasted,” she expressed “People that get medals, like my father, he was a paratrooper and he jumped out of a plane in Normandy, and he deserves a medal, you know. What did I do? I'm just a gal who hooked up with Anthony Drake and brought him to Saskatchewan and got recognized. But I guess it's bigger than that, so I'm pretty happy, I'm humble too, I can't believe that that's happening for me, and I just wish he was alive so we could talk about it, but. he'll be there in spirit, I'm sure.”
The ceremony will take place at the InnovationPlex at 1:00 p.m., tomorrow.