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‘The Purple Lady’, Regina’s Barb Dedi, awarded Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal

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‘The Purple Lady’, Regina’s Barb Dedi, awarded Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal
The medal was awarded at Dedi's home in front of loved ones and fellow volunteers. – Oct 5, 2022

In front of a group of friends, family and fellow volunteers, beloved Regina activist and community organizer Barb Dedi was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal Tuesday.

The medal, created earlier this year to commemorate the 70th year of the late queen’s reign, can be awarded to those from all walks of life “provided that they have made a contribution to society.”

Dedi, tearfully accepting the medal after opening remarks from current and former MLAs including Trent Wotherspoon and Sandra Morin, said she’s never volunteered for awards and achievements but instead to help all live with the same opportunities.

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Dedi’s family gathered for a photo before the medal was awarded. Derek Putz / Global News

“We do it because of things we believe in and because we hope to make the world a better place,” Dedi said, addressing the crowd from her front doorway as she continues her battle with cancer.

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“Over the past 45-50 years, that’s always been my marking, to treat everybody the same.”

Dedi is known for decades of work in the political sphere with the NDP at the provincial and federal level, including managing many campaigns.

She’s also known for tireless promotion of social causes.

She founded and coordinated annual events like Spring Free From Racism and the Saskatchewan Association of Human Rights, and has spent time as Regina Multicultural Association President.

Affectionately nicknamed “the Purple Lady”, Dedi is well-known for her love of the colour purple. Derek Putz / Global News

Speaking to Global News, she said she recognized the need for volunteerism in the community at a young age living in downtown Regina where her parents took in mental health patients and those from different cultures.

“There was a lot of discrimination in renting rooms to those people but we were taught that everyone was equal. That’s what our parents taught us,” she explained, reminding potential volunteers that the experience can be fun.

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“There’s people out there, who when I talk to them about coming out and helping us, they say, ‘What difference can we make?’ Well we can make a difference. If we really want to make a difference, we can make a difference collectively.”

In characteristic fashion, she played down the adversity she’s currently facing and told those in attendance that there are always people to help and more work to be done.

“We have made some progress but we still need to continue to move on and I hope that my legacy will continue after today,” she said.

“But I’m really grateful that so many people could come out and celebrate this with me. Lots of times there are things that get in the way but you’ve got to keep moving forward.”

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Regina Rosemont MLA and friend of Dedi Trent Wotherpoon presented the medal. He commended Dedi not only for her work in the community, but also for her famous Ukrainian holiday feasts. Derek Putz / Global News

Regina Rosemont NDP Trent Wotherspoon helped with the award nomination process and presented Dedi with her medal.

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“She’s been so active on so many levels in our community,” he said.

“She’s been a strong leader from an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive perspective. There’s a legacy of good in our community that Barb has led, a legacy that will continue to live on for many years to come.”

Cree elder Lorna Standingready offered a blessing at the ceremony. Derek Putz / Global News

Cree elder Lorna Standingready offered a prayer and blessing at the beginning of the awards ceremony.

She said Dedi exemplifies reconciliation.

“She dealt with racism and discrimination and I’ve experienced what she’s fighting against,” said Standingready.

“Today that’s part of reconciliation and she has been showing us that all these years. All these years. It’s not a new word for her, she’s lived it. And we’ve lived it with her.”

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Sandra Morin, a former NDP MLA and close friend of Dedi who helped organize Tuesday’s event, said it take a long time to list all of the different things Dedi has done for the community.

“Barb has such a long history in Regina. Her volunteer work with the NDP spans four decades. And for probably well over five decades she’s being doing advocacy work in the community particularly around gender and racial discrimination,” Morin explained, recalling how for a time Dedi would help take care of the children of local mothers suffering from post-partum depression.

“She’s given so much to this community and it’s nice for the community to be able to recognize her by giving her this award today.”

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