Linda Best, O.N.S.
Growing up in Somerset in the Annapolis Valley, Linda Best was one of five children who grew up on a mixed farm — dairy, apples, and field crops — learning early on the importance of fresh local food.
Upon graduating from Acadia University, Linda began her career as a medical microbiologist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, then as a gastroenterology researcher, peer-reviewed author, speaker, supervisor, and consultant. She also served as a director of the Capital District Health Authority, all while operating an apple orchard on the weekends and founding Frame Plus Art, which grew to three locations, a production facility, and employing 10 Nova Scotians.
During Linda’s 40-year career at the QEII, she never forgot her upbringing on the farm and came to understand that one of the most effective ways to prevent illness is to ensure that nutritious food is available to everyone. Aware of the decreasing production of food in Nova Scotia, she helped to found Friends of Agriculture in Nova Scotia and organized the 2009 Nova Scotia Food Summit attended by over 200 delegates.
Friends of Agriculture planted the seeds for Farm Works Investment Cooperative Limited, a Community Economic Development Investment Fund. As a founding director, Linda continues to volunteer her time to support the vision of healthy farms, healthy food. To date, Farm Works has raised more than $3 million and has granted more than 100 loans to food-related businesses across Nova Scotia.
Linda and Ann Anderson received the Gary MacDonald Culinary Ambassadors Award in 2019 for their promotion of local farms and food.
Stella Bowles, M.S.M, O.N.S.
When she was just 11 years old, Stella Bowles wanted to go swimming in the LaHave River, but her mother explained that the water was contaminated. Many homes still have illegal straight pipes that allow sewage from the toilet to flush directly into the river. Stella was appalled and wondered if she could change this somehow.
With guidance from her mentor, Dr. David Maxwell, Stella’s testing verified that bacteria levels in the river exceeded permitted guidelines. After posting her results on social media, Stella drew national attention and support for the removal of illegal straight pipes from the LaHave River. Stella’s project helped influence the development of a $15.7 million project, funded by federal, provincial, and municipal governments, to have straight pipes replaced with compliant septic systems by 2023. Author Anne Laurel-Carter’s book My River tells the story of Stella’s journey.
Stella now presents at conferences and in schools, working with youth around the world who are tackling environmental issues in their own communities. Stella hopes to demonstrate that science combined with social media can influence positive environmental transformation. At just 16 years old, Stella has become one of Nova Scotia’s leading environmental advocates.
David Glenn Fountain, C.M., O.N.S., C.D.
David Fountain was born in Halifax and resides there today. Graduating from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, he began his career in business as a stockbroker with Pitfield Mackay Ross in Halifax. After several years in this position, he became an investment advisor with the firm Brown Brothers Harriman in New York City. He is currently a private investor.
As a volunteer David has served on multiple boards, including the board of Neptune Theatre, where he served as president and also served as chair of three artistic director search committees; The Nova Scotia International Air Show, where he served as chair; Acadia University and the IWK Foundation, where he twice served as Chair of the Board of Trustees and chaired two capital campaigns. At Neptune Theatre, the mainstage auditorium, Fountain Hall, is named in honour of David and his wife, Margaret, as is the Fountain Campus at NSCAD and also Fountain Academy of the Sacred Heart, the boys’ high school component of the Sacred Heart School of Halifax.
Although philanthropic in deed, what many don’t truly appreciate about David is the generosity of his personal dedication of time and energy — be it weekly meetings to advance programs, to encourage others, to ensure the success of campaigns that will have strategic and lasting effects, or to simply check in regularly with staff.
David has received many honours for his dedication to the people of Nova Scotia, including a commission as an honorary colonel in the Canadian Air Force, the Society of Fund Raising Executives of Nova Scotia Award for Outstanding Individual Philanthropist in 1997, and honorary membership in the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association in 1999. David has also received the prestigious Edmund C. Bovey Award for Leadership Support of the Arts in Canada and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2019 in recognition of his philanthropic work across Canada.
As one supporter said, “Mr. Fountain chooses to support the people in our province, and we are all better for it.”
Natalie MacMaster, C.M., O.N.S.
Award winning Cape Breton musician Natalie MacMaster began her fiddling career at age 16. Her career now spans over three decades, highlighted by releasing 11 albums, performing thousands of shows, and collaborating with a multitude of world-renowned artists.
Natalie has become synonymous with the classic Cape Breton violin sound that has placed our Gaelic music and dance on a pedestal the world over. Natalie has performed around the globe, bringing her infectious energy to every stage she graces, including one in Antarctica. From the humble Glencoe Mills Hall in Inverness County to the illustrious Carnegie Hall in New York City, Natalie is an ambassador for Nova Scotia and our strong musical roots.
Natalie’s dedicated work ethic shown throughout her career has garnered her recognition throughout the industry. Accolades include multiple gold albums, awards from across North America, an honorary doctorate from St. Thomas University, and honorary degrees from Niagara University, NY, and Trent University. She has also received the Arts & Letters Award from the Canadian Association of New York, the honour of being a member of the Order of Canada, and most recently, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Atlantic School of Theology.
With her Cape Breton roots, dedication to her craft, and love for her family, Natalie is a musical force with a long and successful career. Without a doubt, she will continue to bring pride and honour to Nova Scotia.
Honourable Dr. Donald Oliver, C.M., O.N.S., Q.C.
A black lawyer from Wolfville, Honorable Dr. Donald Oliver has devoted his life as a powerful advocate to minorities, to breaking down systemic racial barriers to advancement. Donald practiced law for 25 years in civil litigation and became a senior partner at Stewart McKelvie Stirling and Scales. He was chair of several committees of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
He is a committed community volunteer, serving as chairman, president, director, or head of more than 25 charitable institutions, including Chair, Halifax Children’s Aid Society; Atlantic Provinces Co-Chair, Canadian Council of Christians and Jews; Director, Halifax Hearing and Speech Clinic; Director, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre; President, Neptune Theatre Foundation (appointed honorary life director); Director, Junior Achievement of Halifax; Director, Halifax-Dartmouth United appeal; and Director, Black United Front. He was the founding chairman of the Black Cultural Society.
In 1990, Donald became the first black man in Canadian history to be summoned to the Senate of Canada and, later, the first to be elected unanimously as Speaker Pro Tempore of that institution. While there, he served with distinction as chairman of six standing committees, including Fisheries, Rules, Transport, National Finance, and Legal and Constitutional.
Donald’s principle contribution to the community for more than 50 years has been as a human rights activist and catalyst, and fearless trail blazer in breaking down barriers of racism and intolerance and promoting principles of pluralism, diversity, and inclusion in aspects of both the public and private sectors in Nova Scotia and around the globe.
For his community work in promoting human rights, he has received five honorary doctorate degrees (Guelph, York, Dalhousie, St. Mary’s, and Acadia). Donald has also received plaques, honours, and medals from 12 Canadian organizations for his achievements, including the Harry Jerome Award for community service and the Distinguished Men of Honour Award from the Black Business and Professional Association of Toronto. He was awarded the Governor General’s Commemorative 125th Anniversary Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and Golden Jubilee Medals, presentation of the Canada 150 Medal for unselfish service to Community and Country and, earlier this year, he became a member of the Order of Canada for his untiring efforts as a senator, educator, and civic minded community member who promotes inclusion and diversity in Canada.
Donald now serves on the board of the Black North Initiative, a national organization calling on large corporations and governments to sign a pledge to fight to end systemic black racism in Canada. At 82, he is also a businessman and tree farmer.
Shawna Y. Paris-Hoyte, O.N.S., Q.C., B.A., B.SW., MSW., RSW.
Shawna Paris-Hoyte is a fifth-generation Black Nova Scotian born in New Glasgow and raised in Truro. She is mother to Sierra and Bryce and grandmother to Alayah. Shawna has contributed to the betterment of Nova Scotia and exemplifies outstanding achievement and leadership as a lawyer, social worker, educator, social justice advocate, and life-long learner who is currently undertaking a PhD.
She has opened the doors for others to access the legal system by providing countless hours of pro bono services, public social-legal education, and advocacy, including at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. LTH, a precedent-setting case protecting youth from waiving their rights. Shawna has worked tirelessly in public service and volunteer work in support of the Nova Scotian community. She is a zealous advocate for the human rights of women, children, youth, families, and the Black community.
Shawna’s community work extends decades. She was instrumental in bringing about the first facilitated discussions of an African Nova Scotia Justice Institute at Conference 2000, which established the formation of the Black Community Advocates Association of Nova Scotia (BCAANS). She facilitated the first Black Inmates Forum. Shawna was one of nine Canadians appointed to the Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Federal Public Service, and she is the founder of the National Institute of Forensic Social Work.
Shawna is a trailblazer and her influence is far-reaching. She has many awards, most notably, the Distinguished Service Award in Social Work from the Canadian Association of Social Workers/Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (CASW/NSCSW), a Queen’s Counsel, The Honourable Justice Lorne Clarke O.N.S., Q.C., Access to Justice Award, the Treasury Board of Canada Service Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada (BLSAC).