Posted by Carin Jansen van Vuuren on Jan 25, 2019
On Monday, January 21, 2019 the German Ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, awarded our member Harald Kuckertz, Honorary Consul of Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany at her official residence in Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa.

The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany - also known as the Federal Cross of Merit - is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation. It is the  only federal decoration of Germany. It was created by the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, on September 7, 1952 and has been awarded to over 200,000 individuals since, both German citizens and foreigners. Since the 1990's the number of annual awards has declined from over 4000, to 1752 in 2011.

Close to one hundred people, including Harald's wife Irene and daughter Sabrina, attended the ceremony. Amongst the guests were the other five German Honorary Consuls of Canada, three German Consul Generals, the German Military Attache to Canada and various other members and staff of the Embassy in Ottawa and Consulates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, as well as special guests invited by the Ambassador. 
The Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona now boasts three members who were awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany; Fritz Koenig and Bernd Reuscher having received the award previously. Congratulations Harald - we are very proud of you!
See below for the ambassador's speach
Here is the speech Ambassador Sparwasser gave. She handed over her notes to Harald right after. 

 It is my great pleasure and honour tonight to say a heartfelt thank you on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany to Harald Kuckertz, our Honorary Consul in Edmonton for his dedicated, selfless and efficient service. 

 Harald Kuckertz was born in Aachen; he visited his uncle in 1972 in Edmonton - and that was that.

 Like many of us, he fell in love with Canada - and never left . He studied law at the UofAlberta, became Canadian and lawyer in Edmonton. His office in Strathcona became over the years the go to place for German and Canadian citizens and companies in need of good advice and help. Harald Kuckertz always kept in touch with his German heritage;
 He served for many years on the Board or as President of the German Canadian Business and Professional Association. He was one of the first persons the Alberta Government or City of Edmonton would go to when German delegations came to town or trade missions were sent on their way to Germany.
 In 2013 he took on the additional task as Honorary Consul in Edmonton.
 Honorary Consuls are for us indispensable roots into our host countries, they are an invaluable network and provide hugely appreciated services to our citizens. We can count ourselves lucky to find personalities of such high standing, with such commitment for our bilateral relationship and to public service.

 Personalities such as Harald Kuckertz. He was there for Germans, whenever support was needed. He jumped into the car at all hours of the day to help in an emergency. He never counted the hours of work added onto his busy life as a lawyer when he fostered economic cooperation, looked after delegations or organized events with the German or diplomatic community. And his wife not only tolerated this, she was there all the way with him. Amongst the most notable ones for a Diplomatic Gala, where both of you pulled out all the stops to make Germany shine. A big Thank you also goes to Irene. Wonderful that she and her daughter are here.
 Dear Harald Kuckertz, You have opened so many doors for us - German business people, scientists and introduced my colleagues and me to Alberta politics. At every step of the way, it is obvious how much respect and friendship you have generated for yourself and for Germany.
 Warm hearted, unpretentious, selfless, helpful, highly knowledgeable but uncomplicated these are the adjectives always used to describe you. You have never put your own needs first, even when ill health made it harder for you to work. We cannot thank you enough for your impressive labour of love to both your countries, Germany and Canada. But if we can never thank you enough, at least we can thank you in the voice of the highest representative of Germany. 
 It is my great honour to bestow the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany to you on behalf of our President, Dr. Frank Walter Steinmeier.