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Port Moody honours longtime champion of the arts
Freedom of the City is the highest honour a municipality can bestow upon one of its citizens. But for Port Moody's Ann Kitching, it was yet another opportunity in her tireless quest to promote the arts.
Kitching was honoured with the Freedom of the City during a special ceremony Monday at the Inlet Theatre. And in an evening filled with tributes to her work, Kitching saved her most delighted reaction for when it was announced the city would make a donation to the arts in her name.
"This is an unbelievable honour. I am so thrilled and so excited even I can't express it and I can usually talk about most things," said the longtime champion of the arts, before adding, "But it is something you may regret because now just think what I can do."
Kitching promised to spend the next few years helping Port Moody live up to its name as the City of the Arts.
"But I can't do it alone," she said. "There are 75 of you sitting in this room and I know every one of you and every one of you will be working with me to make this the City of the Arts."
It was Kitching herself who played a pivotal role in Port Moody adopting the moniker and, over the years, she has played a vital part in such efforts as the Wearable Art committee, Port Moody Arts Centre, the Arts and Culture Task Force and the city's centennial committee.
Mayor Mike Clay pointed out that Kitching has served on at least two dozen civic committees since 1998.
"Ann doesn't sit around at home and yell at the TV set that those people at city hall don't know what they're doing," said Clay. "She gets down here and makes a difference."
While the countless hours spent sitting on various boards and volunteering for numerous community events would wear out most people, Kitching wouldn't have it any other way.
"I have been blessed with unlimited energy, I must admit," she said.
The retired college administrator said Ioco Road was just "a little country lane" when she moved to Port Moody 35 years ago, falling in love with the community because of its residents. "It is a city where I think people care."
And although Kitching has shown she cares over the years, she has also served as an inspiration to those around her.
Coun. Gerry Nuttall said he was appointed chair of the arts and culture committee when he was first elected in 2002 and Kitching and some of her colleagues quickly realized he didn't have the slightest idea about the arts.
"Ann particularly took me under her wing and, over the course of the years, she's completely converted me over to the arts in Port Moody," Nuttall said.
"When she gets it in her mind to do something you can be pretty well assured that that project is going to get done."
Kitching said her appreciation of the arts comes from its ability to connect people.
"Not everybody paints or draws or sings or dances," she said, "but everybody has one section of the arts that they enjoy and that's what brings people together."