ST. JOHN’S, NL
– Charlie Druken is humbled to have recently received an award that was dedicated to one of his mentors; someone he also considered to be a good friend.
Druken, an Automotive Service Technician instructor at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Prince Phillip Drive campus, was bestowed the John Oates Memorial Volunteer of the Year award from Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador (SCNL).
“It was a bittersweet feeling because the award is in honour of John, who not only was a Skills Canada family member, but he was also a friend,” said Druken.
Oates, who passed away in 2021, was a long-time CNA employee (nearly 40 years as educator and administrator), a huge advocate of youth in skilled trades and a supporter of Skills Canada’s work. So much so that Oates volunteered with the organization for many years, served as president both provincially and nationally, and joined the Worldskills International Board in 2020 to share his expertise and passion with youth from around the world.
Druken, who is originally from Portugal Cove/St. Philip’s, says he was honoured to be chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Skills NL award along with fellow volunteer, Dave Keefe.
“The award to me is a very nice way of recognizing John’s dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm for Skills Canada,” he said. “I’d like to congratulate Dave Keefe who was the other recipient of John’s award. Also, I thank CNA for their unrelenting support of Skills Canada.”
Druken was recognized for his work provincially and nationally with Skills Canada.
“I first got involved in Skills in its early days helping with a Provincial Skills Competition Station for Automotive Service,” he recalled. “This later led to positions on the provincial and national Skills Technical Committees where I got the chance to meet and become friends with many amazing people that I would normally not have gotten the opportunity to meet. I thank Skills NL and CNA for all this.”
Labour of love
Carole Anne Ryan, Executive Director of SCNL, said the award was created to honour a volunteer who demonstrated the same qualities as Oates.
“John embodied selfless volunteerism, compassion, excitement for motivating youth and made all in his presence feel at ease and valued. SCNL has created an annual Volunteer of the Year
Award to honour John’s memory and contribution; this annual award will recognize a SCNL volunteer who shares and embodies these core values.”
Ryan said Oates was an active volunteer with the organization for more than 18 years, and he particularly enjoyed attending the provincial competition each year.
“John devoted a significant part of his life as a Skills Canada volunteer and SCNL is committed to ensuring John’s legacy lives on in the skills movement.”
She said creating the award was a labour of love from the committee members of Skills Canada.
“When John passed, it was deeply felt by the staff and board of SCNL and SCC. He was such a presence and force at all of our events, and his support and kindness were so important to all staff as we built the organization. It was very important to us that we recognize and honour him; both the provincial and national organizations formed committees to develop an annual award to ensure that his presence was felt at major events, and to demonstrate to all, and particularly John’s family, the impact he had and the love we shared for John.”
The John Oates Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award will be given to two winners each year at the annual competition.
“John will forever be remembered for his kind and gentle demeanor, his professionalism and passion, his humour and commitment to youth,” said Ryan. “SCNL is committed to ensuring John’s legacy lives on in the skills movement and will forever be in our hearts.”
For more information about CNA, visit www.cna.nl.ca
For more information about Skill NL, visit: www.skillscanadanl.ca
; and nationally, www.skillscompetencescanada.com/en/
College of the North Atlantic