Order of Nova Scotia

Recipients-2009

Left to Right: Cynthia Baker (on behalf of Michael Baker); Melvin Boutilier; Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis; Premier Darrell Dexter; John Duckworth (on behalf of Muriel Duckworth), Philip Riteman; Viola Robinson.

Photo of Michael Baker   Mr. Michael Gilbert Baker, O.N.S., Q.C. (Posthumous)

Lunenburg

Those who saw him carrying out his duties in his final illness were moved and inspired by his courage and determination, but he has left other lasting legacies. Born and raised in Lunenburg, he received his Bachelor of Law degree from Dalhousie University and practised law in Chester and Mahone Bay. In 1998 he was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, representing the constituents of Lunenburg. He was appointed to Cabinet in 1999 and over the next 10 years served as Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Aboriginal Affairs, Finance, and Justice, as well as having responsibility for Treasury and Policy Board and Communications Nova Scotia. He committed government to the construction of three court facilities and two justice centres, including the newly opened Bridgewater Justice Centre, and he was instrumental in the public acquisition of a number of Mahone Bay islands to protect them for future generations, as well as important properties that will ensure continuation of a working waterfront in Lunenburg. His untimely death at the age of 52 cut short a lifetime of dedicated and committed public service to Nova Scotia and its residents.

Photo of Melvin Boutilier Mr. Melvin James Boutilier, C.M., O.N.S.

Halifax

The food bank he started in a one-car garage on Parker Street in Halifax 25 years ago is now a 12,000 sq. ft. facility that helps thousands of people every year. It not only meets their short-term needs with food and furniture, it helps them to self-sufficiency with skills training for real-world jobs. The help provided may be as simple as giving someone access to a free phone in a warm place, or it may be a refurbished computer to help them with their studies. Having experienced poverty as a child, Melvin Boutilier took early retirement to devote his life full time to help those who are hurting. His leadership, creativity, and determination are legendary. When fire badly damaged the food bank in 2001, he rebuilt it into a bigger and better facility. He has forged links in the community with government and business. The skills training provided by the Community Skills Development Centre can be applied to course credits at the Nova Scotia Community College. Programs are also targeted to youth at risk. His work has been honoured many times by his community, and in 2006 he received the Thérèse Casgrain Award, Canada's top award for volunteer service. Compassionate and practical, he lives the mission of his organization-to build a caring community for all people.

Photo of Muriel Duckworth Mrs. Muriel Helena Duckworth, C.M., O.N.S., D.Hum.L. (Deceased)

Bedford

Peace, hope, and love were her watchwords, and her blunt assertion that "war is stupid" informed a life dedicated to advancing the cause of world peace. She was also a tireless crusader and advocate for women's rights, social justice and change, education, mental health, and the environment. She was a founding member of numerous groups dedicated to those causes, including the Voice of Women, the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, the Canadian Conference on Education, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, the Nova Scotia Women's Action Coalition, and the Movement for Citizens' Voice and Action Halifax. She was a longtime supporter of Oxfam and the Friends of Nature. As a resident of Halifax since 1947, she took an active voice in causes close to home, combating racism and supporting community development. Her lifetime of activism was recognized with many awards, including the Persons' Award and the Pearson Medal of Peace. She held honorary degrees from 10 Canadian universities, and she was a Companion of the Order of Canada. She was also one of 1000 women who were jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Through her passion, persistence, and vigilance she was a role model for all who work to make the world a better place.

Photo of Philip Riteman Mr. Philip Riteman, O.N.S., LL.D., D.Litt.

Bedford

He keeps alive the memories of the millions who died in the Nazi death camps, reliving unimaginable horrors to make sure they never happen again. Born in Poland, he was in his mid-teens when he and his family were deported to Pruzhany Ghetto. From there, they were transported by train in January 1942 to Birkenau Auschwitz. By the end of the war, 30 members of his immediate family were dead, while he, somehow, had survived. Arriving in Newfoundland in 1946, he began his new life as a door-to-door peddler and went on to become the owner of a successful import trading company. Although he prospered, like many survivors, he lived in shame that he should have lived when so many died. He came to realize that one way to make sense of having survived the most notorious Nazi concentration camps, and to silence those who denied the truth, was by sharing his story with others. Since 1989 he has carried his message to thousands of young people, and they have responded with questions, hugs, and tears. They have even created a Facebook page to honour him. His work has also been recognized with honorary degrees from Memorial and St. Thomas Universities. His message to young people is clear: to think for themselves, to respect others, to love rather than hate, and to stand up against evil.

Photo of Viola Robinson Mrs. Viola Marie Robinson, O.N.S., LL.B., LL.D.

Truro

She is a trusted and inspiring leader for the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. From the 1970s she has worked to end discrimination against the Mi'kmaw people, advocating in particular for changes to sections of the Indian Act that discriminated against Aboriginal women. She served as president of the Native Council of Nova Scotia from 1975 to 1990 and as president of the Native Council of Canada from 1990 to 1991. She was one of seven commissioners who travelled across Canada with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the early 1990s. Having received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Dalhousie University, she went on to study law, graduating with a law degree in 1998. She contributed to the development of the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process, a forum for negotiating treaty rights and governance with representatives from the Mi'kmaw community and the provincial and federal governments. She also helped to establish the Rural Native Housing Program, the Court Workers Program, and the Mi'kmaq Legal Support Network. Today, as land claim negotiator for the Acadia First Nation, member of the National Board of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, and senior Mi'kmaw advisor to the Mi'kmaq Rights Initiative, she continues to bring wisdom, persistence, and vision to achieving a just and inclusive society for her people.