(L-R) New Brunswick Black History Society (NBBHS) Co-Founder and Director Ralph Thomas, PRUDE Managing Director Li Song and Song’s mother Maliya Wang at Government House in Fredericton on Oct. 21. Photo: PRUDE Inc.
A life lived in service to others. Commitment to community. A focus on goals while maintaining and growing relationships. These are character traits that any organization or community should cherish and celebrate in a leader. And, as fortune would have it, the Province of New Brunswick has done just that for two Saint John community stalwarts whose work with PRUDE has been extensive throughout the years.
New Brunswick Black History Society (NBBHS) Co-Founder and Director Ralph Thomas and PRUDE Managing Director Li Song were both awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal recently. On Oct. 21, in a ceremony at Government House in Fredericton, New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy presented both Thomas and Song awards for their ongoing work in making New Brunswick an inclusive place for members of all cultural communities to live, work and thrive.
“So many people helped me when I was a youngster and I took that to heart,” said Thomas, explaining why he has put so much effort into community-based initiatives over the years. “There were a lot of examples set by people I grew up with who were part of my family, and others who were prominent leaders in the community.”
(L-R) New Brunswick Black History Society Co-Founder and Director Ralph Thomas and his niece Cheryl Thomas Photo: PRUDE Inc.
In addition to his directorship of the NBBHS, Thomas is a past president of PRUDE Inc., the New Brunswick Amateur Boxing Association’s first president and a recipient of the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association’s Builder Award in recognition of his mentorship and leadership in the sport, both regionally and nationally.
“I love my Saint John and I love my New Brunswick,” he said.
And Song takes her responsibility as a leader and role model in the community seriously.
“My dad taught me that you have to do good work around you,” she said. “So I do the things I believe in and now it’s my time to give back.”
Song, who arrived in Saint John in 2005 to attend university, has channeled her community spirit into action.
“UNB helped me with my education; Saint John enabled me to grow and PRUDE has supported me since 2005,” she said.
Song, a successful REALTOR®, vice president of the Imperial Theatre board of directors and a member of several other regional boards and councils, has just established a bursary at UNB for first-year Asian females studying health sciences. “I’m action-driven and no task is too big or too small,” she said. “I like to help people.”
In keeping with Canada’s historic ties to Britain as a Commonwealth country, the province describes its Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal as “a tangible way for New Brunswick to honour Her Majesty’s service to Canada, as well as those residents of New Brunswick who, like Her Majesty, have been exemplary in their service to others.”
“This is a very special thank-you named after a very special lady,” said Thomas. “And she was also community-minded when you look at her record.”