Sherwood Park's Reg Basken was recently honoured with the Alberta Order of Excellence for his efforts as a union leader.
During his life, Basken has advocated to bring about Medicare for workers, as well as pushed for increased wages and improved working conditions for employees. However, the changes he brought about were created through compromise and negotiation; under his watch, his union never took a strike vote.
"We worked everything out. It was called a collaboration effort but we ended up with pretty darn good wages and pretty darn good working conditions and nothing was ever disrupted."
In 1962, Saskatchewan doctors went on a 23-day strike. It was at that time that Basken's son was born.
"I worked with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour during the doctor's strike to try and get common sense applied and finally it worked. But it took a long time and it was very stressful."
It wasn't long until his ideas of Medicare in Saskatchewan spread to the rest of Canada.
According to The Alberta Order of Excellence, Basken was president of the Energy and Chemical Workers Union, which later became known as the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, from 1984 until 1992. He continued participating as the executive vice-president, secretary and treasurer until he retired in 1998.
He also spent much of his life getting involved with the United Way, the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Cancer Society, the ABC Canada Illiteracy Foundation and a number of other community organizations.
In October, Basken was awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence, the highest honour the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen. It is given to people who have made an outstanding provincial, national, or international impact.
"I'm just overwhelmed at winning it and I'm so thankful to my family and my friends and my community because it all came together. I sort of always said that I've never worked a day in my life because I was always doing something that I enjoyed."
The award was given at the Government House in Edmonton and was presented by the Lieutenant Governor, Lois Mitchell.
Rosella Bjornson also received the Alberta Order of Excellence for paving the way for women in aviation as the first female commercial airline pilot.

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