Alex Nilsson Recieves the Higher Canadian Civilian Honor!

At a recent investiture in Ottawa, ALEX NILSSON, CSA, was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean. Congratulations, Alex!

Many in the CSA family know Alex as a Faculty member through his inspirational presentations on “Nutrition and Fitness.” A life-long sports and fitness ‘guru’, Alex was deservedly honoured for his extensive contributions in sports and community development activities, many of which contribute directly to quality of life for seniors in his home community of Creston, B.C.

More information about his background and many accomplishments will be featured in a forthcoming edition of Maturity Matters newsletter.

To access some photos of Alex and his lovely wife, Nicole, please follow the link below…as well as a link to all recipients receiving the Order of Canada on April 7, 2010. (Alex is #23 on the photo list).

We are privileged to know Alex as a colleague, fellow CSA and friend.



Nilsson named to Order of Canada

By Lorne Eckersley
Creston Valley Advance

Alex and Nicole Nilsson were spending Christmas with family members in Arizona when they learned Alex had been named as a member of the Order of Canada.

Since returning to Creston the congratulations have rolled in steadily, the Nilssons said on Tuesday.

“I was talking to someone from Cranbrook on the phone the other day and he said, ‘I hear you’re a very important person now,’” Alex said. “ ‘That’s right — we’re all very important,’ I said. ‘If we realized everyone is important we would have a better world.’ ”

Alex Nilsson becomes the third Creston Valley resident to be inducted into the Order of Canada, preceded by Rev. James J. Morelli and Herbert K. Legg. Morelli was a Roman Catholic priest whose involvements extended into health care and Legg was the longtime publisher of the Creston Review weekly newspaper.

“He still remains a humble guy,” Nicole said with a laugh when asked whether Alex had a swollen head after this latest accolade.

Humility, in fact, is one of the first descriptors most people use when talking about Alex Nilsson.

“No one does this on their own — this is a recognition of all the volunteers I’m involved with,” he said. “That’s the beauty of having connections of being involved in many organizations — you get an appreciation of what this community is all about.”

Involvement with many organizations is a bit of as understatement. Nicole provided a list of two dozen, in almost all of which Alex played a leadership role over a lengthy period. His early community involvement reflected his passion for physical activity and his childen’s interests.

“I don’t think our kids were involved in anything that Nicole and I weren’t running,” Alex said.

“We weren’t parents who dropped our children off at the rink or the pool,” Nicole said.

The couple was active in minor soccer, the swim club, speed skating and tennis. Alex played soccer and promoted the game to youngsters, and worked tirelessly to create what is now known as Alex Nilsson Field, the Creston and District Community Complex’s soccer pitch.

“I was the soccer team’s laundromat,” Nicole laughed, turning up her nose as she remembered the odour of sweat-filled socks that she would take home to wash.

For a man with a passion for physical activity, Nilsson has always had a remarkable interest in the endless meetings that have accompanied his role as an organizer.

“I’ve always said I’m a board junkie,” he laughed. “But it’s at the meetings that you get an understanding of what needs to be done and what decisions were made. Then you take that information and go out and get things done.”

Those meetings are more than a means to an end, though, Nilsson admits.

“Those people are my friends, my social circle,” he said. “They are people who I have a lot in common with and I truly enjoy the time I spend with them.”

The man who can cite such remarkable achievements as riding a bicycle non-stop to both Calgary and Vancouver (the latter at the age of 60), participating in World Masters cross-country ski races, running eight marathons in eight months (when he was 71 and 72) and roller skiing across Canada in 2005 continues to plug away at passions that have consumed him for years.

He is co-president of the Creston Valley Community Housing Society, active with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (which he helped keep alive when the Interior Health Authority pulled its funding several years ago), sits on the Kootenay Employment Services board and continues to be a director on the boards of Cresteramics, the community living societies in Creston and the Kootenays, and the Erickson Golden Agers Housing Society.

Before he and Nicole left for Phoenix in December, he and close friend Terje Munkerud — “He gets a quarter of the medal; he helps me with everything,” said Nilsson — were down at the therapeutic riding program horse stables on the former Endicott Centre grounds, working in frigid temperatures.

“The waterlines had frozen and we had to figure out a way to get water to the horses,” he said.

Alex said he remains involved in seeing that the former Endicott Centre property is sold and that proceeds are directed back into the community to provide housing and services for people with special needs. He spent days last summer tidying up the property to help make it more saleable.

He and Munkerud volunteer their services as maintenance men to the TAPS program and Alex continues to be optimistic that the program will continue into the future.

“It’s obvious that giving seniors social opportunities helps keep them out of the medical system,” he said. “We tend to concentrate on providing medical care and forget about peoples’ social needs. TAPS saves the government money and it’s great for the participants. They are wonderful people.”

The Nilssons haven’t been informed when the Order of Canada presentations will be made in Ottawa, but Nicole said there’s no hurry.

“I’d tell them to wait until spring,” she laughed. “I don’t want to go to Ottawa in the winter.”

Alex and Nicole have remained each other’s greatest friends and supporters during their long marriage. Alex is quick to joke that Nicole wants half of the Order of Canada medal, and quicker to add that she’s earned it.

“I don’t do anything on my own,” he explained. “Nicole is my partner and my support system. We toss around ideas and she always gives good feedback.”

For her part, the retired nurse manages to keep her own activities in addition to supporting Alex in his community involvements. She provides foot care for seniors and is a member of the Creston Valley Hospice Society.

“We’ve done a lot of good things during our years together,” she smiled.

For Alex, a former citizen of the year in Creston, a Freeman of the Town of Creston and a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, volunteering remains his passion and he shows no signs of slowing down.

“When you are involved in many things you start to understand that it isn’t just one or two people or groups who make things work,” he said. “I’d like this community to be all-inclusive, one that provides something for everyone. So you don’t feel like you don’t matter or that you’re not important enough.

“I always thought the Order of Canada was for people in the diplomatic service or people making notable contributions around the world, like scientists, not for little people like me. It’s nice to know we count, too.”


Other Articles About Alex’s Induction in the Order of Canada

(click on the picture to read full-size version –  it will open in a new window)




  1. Myrna Johnson says:

    Well deserved for all of Alex’s volunteer time and commitment to the community.

  2. Normally I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.