Courtesy of Bill Rawlins - Bill Rawlins in Cap Haitien, Haiti where Live Different has done significant work. Rawlins has been awarded the Governor General’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers.

Islander honoured for 56 volunteer international aid missions

Former Parksville principal Bill Rawlins receives Sovereign’s Medal from Governor General

When Bill Rawlins’s daughter came home from school one day with a plan to head to the Dominican Republic on a volunteer trip, he didn’t think that his life was about to change.

Joining daughter Lauren Bedard on that mission would turn out to be the start of something big for Rawlins.

Since that first trip, he’s led volunteer teams on numerous international trips to do charity work in other countries with organization Live Different.

Now, the former principal of Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville has been awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. It’s an official Canadian honour that is awarded by the Governor General’s office.

READ MORE: Locals build a house abroad

The medal “recognizes the remarkable volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields,” according to the Governor General’s website, and “pays tribute to the dedication and exemplary commitment of volunteers.”

It was his first trip to the Dominican Republic in 2005, working on a clean water project, that really changed his perspective on life.

“It just totally opened my eyes to the fact that for 55 years I had been absolutely blessed. While I taught this stuff and thought I was doing a good job of it, I had no clue as to what real abject poverty really is,” said Rawlins.

“I’d taught poverty, but I’d never seen it and tasted it and smelled it like that.”

During the past 15 years, he’s led volunteer teams on 56 international trips doing everything from building schools, kindergartens, houses and water lines.

READ MORE: City of Parksville proclaims volunteer week April 7 to April 13

Rawlins feels as though he’s found his second passion in life.

“I realized that what we do on the ground is cool, whether it’s a house or a school or water line, but it’s really what really got me was how it impacts the people that we take down there to see this, and realize that because we were born where we were born, we won the birth lottery,” said Rawlins.

Rawlins received his medal at a ceremony at the Government House in Victoria with Lt. Governor Janet Austen in early September. A total of 44 people from across B.C. also received the medal.

To find out more about the work that Live Different does around the world, visit

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

Working with offenders: a look at Correctional Service Canada

CSC is one of many vendors featured at the upcoming Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair

Commercial fisheries off-loading business booming in Port Hardy

Off-loading facilities pack, ice, and load in totes the fish that are caught by commercial fishermen

Four days of mediation fail to break four-month strike in the woods

Steelworkers union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

Vancouver Island firefighters showcased on Discovery Channel

Second season of Hellfire Heroes premieres Oct. 22

Birders flocking to Greater Victoria after rare warbler sighting

Tiny bird draws big audience to Panama Flats

In the news: Liberals eke out a win, but will need NDP, Green support to pass bills

Conservatives say they are ready if Trudeau should falter

Security guard bitten, punched by patient at Terrace hospital

Violent incident is one of many in northwest B.C., nurses’ union says

VIDEO: Final trailer for ‘Rise of Skywalker’ debuts

Last instalment in Skywalker saga to hit theatres Dec. 20

Oak Bay to complete LED switchover of 1,506 street lamps

Electricians to install final 356 steet lamps

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

Raiders to face Rebels in football playoffs

Island football squads on a collision course for the playoffs

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

Most Read