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In 1987 the Recreation Committee felt there was a major gap in the Achievement Awards Program. Individuals who may not have won a provincial, national or international event but have made a major contribution to our community in the areas of recreation, culture or social services were not being recognized. On March 10, 1987, they made a motion “that the City establish an award recognizing citizens who made an outstanding contribution to the City in a volunteer capacity. This award be named after George Repka who himself has made a significant contribution in terms of time and effort to the City."
George was born in rural north-eastern Alberta in 1914 to Ukrainian immigrant parents. Despite having a limited formal education, he nevertheless succeeded at business, politics, sports and perhaps most importantly, community. A meat cutter by trade, he first happened upon Grande Prairie in 1942, on his way to work on the construction of the Alaska Highway. He was so impressed with the potential of the Peace Country that in 1953, he packed up the family and moved to Grande Prairie; constructing and opening the Wapiti Drive-In Theatre that year.
Drive-In theatres were popular in post-World War II. Many of the same faces would be seen there week after week, as families, friends and dating couples looked for an alternative form of entertainment. The Wapiti was very much a family-run enterprise with all members contributing to its success. The importance of working together as a team became most apparent in those years. It was sold after the 1971 season.
In the early GP years, George supplemented his income by working for George Vagt at City Meats in the winter months. After serving as an alderman, he was elected Mayor in 1958. George Repka was the first Mayor elected after Grande Prairie received City status; he was elected on October 15, 1958 and was re-elected for three more terms, serving as Mayor until 1968.
George Repka believed that all citizens had a duty to contribute and make their voice heard. During his time as Mayor, Grande Prairie’s streets were paved, sidewalks were installed, a new City Hall was built as well as the Water Treatment Plant on the Wapiti River. A Preventive Social Service unit was established and the City owned Industrial Park was developed. He believed Grande Prairie was the “land of opportunity”. George also served as President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and in 1985 they awarded him an Award of Excellence.
George’s ten years at the helm of the City established a record. Once retiring from politics in 1968, George dabbled in real estate and land development, forming Nor-Alta Real Estate which was located on Richmond Avenue downtown.
Nomination deadline is October 1st of each year, for the current year.
Previous award winners have included:
2017 - Bill Corcoran
2017 - Ken O'Shea
2016 - Patricia (Pat) Cooke
2015 - Ian Kay
2015 - Dr. Curtis Smith
2012 - Jim & Sharon Brooks
2011 - Dan Gorman
2009 - Lynne & Donna Coulter and Jerry Petryshyn
2008 - Gordon & Hazel Bloomfield and Travis McNally
2006 - Leigh Goldie
2005 - Wally Stokes and Linda Smith
2002 - Ray & Joan Joberty and Dale Williams
2000 - Oscar Blais (late), Bea Collins, Sister Alice Goulet
1999 - Doreen Latham
1998 – Mike Townsend & Bob Normandeau
1996 – Steve Cooper
1995 – Doreen MacDonell and Kathy Harper
1994 – Marv Bird and Patricia Larter
1992 – Jennie Tetreau
1991 – Bill and Margaret Bowes
1989 – Ernie Radbourne
1988 – Isabelle Campbell and Doug Clarkson
1987 – Perky McCullough and Roy Borstad
The award was not given out in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2014 and was declined by the recipients in 1990
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