Dr. Elizabeth Cromwell (Posthumous)
Dr. Elizabeth Cromwell, C.M. is an African Nova Scotian and a Black Loyalist descendant of great strength, vision and perseverance. She spent the majority of her career as a Caseworker Supervisor with the Shelburne County Children’s Aid Society. She was dedicated to volunteering for organizations across the province as well as in her community for the Christ Church Anglican Council and Parish and was a founding board member of the Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society, the precursor to the Black Loyalist Heritage Society.
In the 1980’s she fought against the environmental racism of a proposed landfill in her community, which lead to the formation of the Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society in 1989. The Society successfully blocked the proposed landfill, which would have destroyed valuable African Nova Scotian archaeological items and records.
Dr. Cromwell collected genealogical information and other historical information to promote the contributions of the Black Loyalists and their descendants in Nova Scotia. She was instrumental in mobilizing the community to promote Black Loyalists and African Nova Scotian history.
Under her leadership, the society secured a National Historic site and monument board designation for the historic event of the landing of Black Loyalists in Canada in 1783. Dr. Cromwell was instrumental in assisting Lawrence Hill in his research in the writing of “The Book of Negroes” which later was turned into a movie that was filmed in the town of Shelburne. Her passion and dedication to preserve the history of the Black Loyalists and share this history with the broader community culminated in the development and construction of the Black Loyalists Heritage Centre which opened in 2015.
She is a staunch advocate for celebrating African Nova Scotian history, and the journey of black loyalists who arrived in Birchtown. Her voice and persistent determination helped give black history its rightful place in the provincial and national narrative.
Growing up in a racially segregated Nova Scotia in the 1930’s and 40’s, Francis Dorrington wasn’t able to drink coke with his teammates in a restaurant after winning a basketball game. One of his first permanent jobs was working as a Via Rail Porter, one of the few rail jobs available to black men; he moved to Halifax and worked at the Camp Hill Veterans Hospital. It was upon moving back to New Glasgow with his wife, Frances, that he began actively serving his community. His public service career sets him apart as a trailblazer as he was the first African Nova Scotian elected to public office in New Glasgow, to serve on the Executive of the Nova Scotia School Board, and to serve as a Director of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.
He was a respected voice in municipal politics, serving as Town Councillor for 21 consecutive years. This included serving as Deputy Mayor for four terms, as well as Acting Mayor in 1987. His expertise was evident in revitalizing and renovating community infrastructures, such as New Glasgow Town Hall, New Glasgow town schools, and the Aberdeen Hospital.
In 1989, he was a key member of the group that established the New Glasgow Black Gala Homecoming Committee, an organization that saw him as their first Chairperson. When he was in positions of authority, he worked towards ensuring that the public services were more representative of the public they served. He has been an invaluable community mentor, and role model for generations of Nova Scotians.
Dr. Noni MacDonald
Dr. Noni MacDonald is a pioneer in the medical community in Canada and internationally. She was the first pediatrician in Canada certified in pediatric infectious diseases by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She founded the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Ottawa in 1981 and led the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Service at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, serving as Chief until in 1999, she moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to become the first woman in Canada to hold the position of Dean of a Faculty of Medicine when she took this post at Dalhousie University. Following her Deanship, she was a co-founded of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in 2004, where she is still in active member.
Dr. MacDonald has had a prolific career. She has over 400 peer reviewed publications and was the founding Editor in Chief of the journal Pediatrics and Child Health from 1996-2016, the first Canadian pediatric journal. She has been a consultant and advisor to the World Health Organization for over 20 years, now serving on the Strategic Advisory Committee on Immunization, one of the 15 people who provide the major advice to WHO on Immunization.
In 2008 she co-founded MicroResearch in Eastern Africa, a program that builds community capacity so that local health care providers can solve local health problems taking into account local context, culture and resources. This program has also been so successful in Eastern Africa that it is now used in Nova Scotia to serve communities across this province. In September of this year, public health leaders in Saskatchewan have asked if MicroResearch Nova Scotia could be adapted to Saskatchewan and rolled out there.
In brief, Dr Macdonald has long been an advocate for and leader in children and youth health locally and nationally in Canada and for the past 20 years on a more global scale.
Ann MacLean has made significant contributions to improving the lives of Nova Scotia’s vulnerable and marginalized communities. As a mental health therapist, social worker, addictions treatment supervisor and director, and Vice President of Community Health she worked tirelessly to provide community-based workshops, group homes and support services to those in need. In 1976 she was a founder of Metropolitan Mental Health Group Homes Association, providing residential services to help build skills and community support for those with mental health difficulties. As a founding member of the Tearmann Society for Abused Women (1984), she framed domestic abuse as a community issue and worked to break cycles of violence. An early promoter of the determinants of health, she changed attitudes about mental health, addiction, and domestic violence.
Aside from these considerable contributions to Nova Scotia, she had an extensive career in municipal politics, including 34 years as a public servant. As the longest serving Mayor of New Glasgow and the first female mayor, Ann MacLean oversaw significant initiatives and investments including the establishment of watershed management and water treatment facility, the redevelopment of the Riverfront, including Glasgow Square Theatre, and downtown revitalization. Among her significant contributions to municipal politics, she was a key negotiator in the federal gas tax that ensured investments for municipal infrastructure.
She is the only Atlantic Canadian woman to be elected President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. As president she formalized the Standing Committee for Increasing Women’s Participation in Municipal Government. She continues to mentor women interested in running for elected office. She is the only living municipal leader in Canada to have a national award in her name by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
David M. McKeage (Posthumous)
David McKeage never fully understood the remarkable contribution he was making to families across this province. He was driven by an incredible passion despite great adversity - four-time cancer survivor – and powered by an unwavering commitment to serve others. He made Nova Scotia a better place for all.
Determined to turn his dream into a reality, Dave mobilized a team of Nova Scotians to join him in the pursuit of Brigadoon. Brigadoon Village is now a year-round medical recreation facility in the Annapolis Valley for children, youth and their families living with chronic health conditions and other life challenges. Brigadoon is a safe place where children can be children regardless of their illness and challenges, where they create meaningful connections with others who “get it”.
Dave was collaborative and innovative. He brought together stakeholders from across the health, academic, non-for-profit and public sectors to form lasting partnerships that would help to transform our health system far beyond the walls of Brigadoon Village. Brigadoon opened to 38 campers in its inaugural year. It is now Canada’s largest pediatric illness camp program with 800 campers in the summer of 2019.
Dave’s humility and profound gratitude for everyone who answered his call for help, combined with his endless optimism and resilience are a lasting legacy for all who had the privilege to know him. He proved that no dream is too big, no obstacle too great, no child should be defined by their diagnosis.
Dave always said if his role in building Brigadoon was to be remembered he would just like to be known as a camper who grew up to help his fellow campers past, present and future.
Dave was the quintessential Nova Scotian. He held his dreams tight, pursued them with a vigour and determination second to none. While Dave is celebrated for founding Brigadoon, his greatest joy in life was being a Dad to his son Bennett. He was a beloved Father, Husband, Brother, Uncle and Friend.