By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Justin Chronik has been chosen as the Picture Butte Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2022.
The award was presented to Chronik during the Picture Butte & District Chamber of Commerce’s Awards and Appreciation Banquet, hosted in Kleeman Hall at Coyote Flats Pioneer Village on Feb. 11. The annual event celebrates businesses and individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the previous year, and are selected by other community members.
Chronik is a volunteer Fire Captain, EMS worker, and team lead for Picture Butte Emergency Services. He lives in Picture Butte with his wife Kate, and their three boys and grew up in Picture Butte. He said it was an easy choice to lay down roots with his family in the quiet prairie town.
“I grew up here,” he said adding, “then when my wife came to the community and saw what it had to offer, she liked the small-town feel and the community vibe.”
Chronik shared he and Kate feel really connected to the community.
“We’re pretty firm believers of the (idea) ‘It takes a village’ and we really feel that here in Picture Butte,” he said.
Chronik explained he did not always intend on working in the emergency services field. Prior to his tenure with the fire department and EMS, he was busy balancing the demands of academic life.
“My brother volunteered with Picture Butte Emergency Services before, and it was always something I had interest in.”Although he had considered the prospect of volunteering, his heavy course load at the University of Lethbridge made it difficult to accommodate volunteering. Upon entering into his final few courses at the University of Lethbridge to round out his degree requirements, he revisited the opportunity again.
“When it became available that I did have time, I jumped on the chance and kind of fell in love and found a passion for it,” he said. “I went from getting my degree in Biological Sciences to just jumping into this with both feet and almost 12 years later it is still something that I am happy to be here doing every day.”
“As kids growing up my parents always instilled that no matter what you were doing, you went 100 per cent,” he said.
In addition to working four days a week on the Town’s ambulance, Chronik also carries out the duties of team lead where he does a lot of the invoicing, supply orders, and scheduling for the ambulance. As the volunteer Fire Captain, Chronik also donates his time by filling volunteer fire shifts each month, and added, “pretty much any time I can make a call, I am here.”
Despite his contributions, Chronik said he was “very surprised,” to hear the news he was selected for the award in 2022.
“It’s very humbling to look at a lot of the past names that have been recipients of the award for Picture Butte. To be recognized in the same light is definitely quite the experience.” Although the work itself can be challenging, like many EMS and fire workers and volunteers, Chronik continues to show up despite this.
“Serving the community and the people around here and knowing that there’s always somebody there to help, regardless of what it is,” is a key motivator in his line of work.
“Even if it’s something which might be minor, or not as serious.”
It is important to community members to “just be able to know that they have someone coming,” when they need emergency assistance. Chronik pointed to this relationship between emergency and fire services and the broader community as one of reciprocity.
“I look at everything the community gives me and all the opportunities, so if I can give back every day I am more than willing to. I would rather be here doing this and serving the people here than somewhere else.”