Colonel (Ret'd) John Boileau, ONS, CD
As an accomplished and widely published historian and heritage preservation advocate, Colonel Boileau has done much to enhance public knowledge of the province's rich history and its peoples.
Boileau, a thirty-seven-year veteran of the Canadian Army, who was stationed in Cyprus, the United States, Germany and finally as Military Attaché to the United Kingdom, has a passion for Nova Scotia's history.
Among his 15 books and more than 650 articles, he has written authoritative works about democracy in Nova Scotia, Halifax and the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion, as well as the achievements of young Atlantic Canadians from diverse backgrounds.
Boileau has served as a heritage advisor to numerous organizations. Drawing on his expertise about African Nova Scotian military contributions, he advised extensively on the National Apology given to the descendants of No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Immensely active in his community as a speaker, advisor, and commentator, he gives freely of his time and advice. In retirement, Boileau retained a military connection as Honorary Colonel of The Halifax Rifles (RCAC), bringing his time in uniform to forty-seven years. He has volunteered extensively and was a Director of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Society and the Royal United Services Institute (NS). He was also Chair of Commissionaires Nova Scotia, the National Council of Honorary Colonels, and the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society, of which he was a founding member.
Boileau is an influential and positive force behind the promotion of the province's cultural fibre and has created an awareness and appreciation of Nova Scotia's rich and diverse history and heritage.
Kenzie MacNeil, ONS (posthumous)
Through his many contributions to music, theatre, film, radio, public service and publishing, Kenzie MacNeil was a tireless promoter of Cape Breton Island, its people, culture, and prosperity. Author of "The Island" the official anthem of Cape Breton, MacNeil was known across Canada for his many talents.
MacNeil started song writing in the late 1960s and emerged as an artist on the local and national music and theatre circuits, with regular appearances on Peter Gzowski's "This Country in the Morning" and CBC Radio's "Morningside" popular television shows including "The Tommy Hunter Show", "Ryan's Fancy", "Singalong Jubilee" and "The Ian Tyson Show" along with stage performances at venues across Canada.
A founding member and artistic director/producer of the theatrical musical-sketch comedy productions "The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton Island," MacNeil and his fellow cast members depicted the real-life challenges and experiences of a struggling community with levity and candor. A ground-breaking production, the "Follies" helped shape Cape Breton's cultural renaissance in the 1970s, placing the Island's story and song onto the national stage as an integral part of Canada's identity.
Rustum Southwell, ONS
Known as a dedicated leader who is deeply devoted to his community and province, Rustum Southwell has worked tirelessly as an advocate for economic diversity and capacity building for more than forty-years.
As one of the first Black franchise operators in Nova Scotia, Southwell gained an acute understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape of the province and has done much to share his experience and skills, guiding many new entrepreneurs through the challenges of business ownership.
During his sixteen-year tenure as founding Chief Executive Officer of the Black Business Initiative, Southwell expanded the scope and reach of the organization. An able administrator with significant expertise in strategic planning, business development and corporate governance, his mentorship and advice continue to be sough by many in the business community.
While Southwell has positively influenced Nova Scotia's business culture by promoting and assisting the development of Nova Scotia Black owned businesses, he has a quietly innovative and highly effective management style. Among his most notable ventures was the establishment of "Business is Jammin," which encourages Black youth to become entrepreneurs.
Beyond the province, Southwell has overseen the creation and expansion of hundreds of Black businesses in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
Generous with his time and talents, Southwell served as Executive Director of the African Canadian Business Development Centre, was a founding member of the Board of the Canada Council on Africa, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the Preston Area Board of Trade and the Black Employment Partnership Committee. Additionally, he was the First Chair of the Board of Hope Blooms Youth Ventures Inc.
Dr. Robert Strang, ONS, MD
Dr. Strang is a passionate advocate for the most vulnerable in our society. His collaborative leadership to create Nova Scotia's Opioid Use and Overdose Framework allowed the province to quickly respond to this important issue with expanded harm reduction services, more treatment options, and better surveillance – all achieved collaboratively with members of the community, partners in healthcare, law enforcement and other public policy leaders.
Dr. Strang's attention to matters touching on the social determinants of health in relation to substance abuse, immunization, maternal and newborn health, physical activity, poverty reduction, healthy eating and food security are less publicized hallmarks of his leadership as Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Strang played a central role in the province's robust and comprehensive response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
His broader community involvements have included appointment as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, serving as the President of Smoke Free Nova Scotia, and being a Member of the Board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, Feed Nova Scotia, Autism Nova Scotia, and the National Specialty Society for Community Medicine.
Hope Swinimer, ONS
Founder of the province's first privately owned and operated wildlife rescue facility, Hope Swinimer has had a significant influence on how people think about wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
Swinimer began her work by developing the first wildlife rehabilitation license in Nova Scotia with the Department of Natural Resources and went on to establish Hope for Wildlife. Today, the organization responds to tens of thousands of calls about injured or orphaned wildlife and collects valuable data that supports the conservation of delicate ecosystems in the province.
Having helped to rescue more than 80,000 injured animals from 250 species, Swinimer has accomplished much taking care of wild animals, overseeing their healing process, and releasing them back into their natural habitats.
With onsite education programs and presentations to schools and community groups, Swinimer has shown what individuals can do to ensure our varied wildlife survive and thrive in Nova Scotia. She also leads a dedicated cadre of staff and volunteers who conduct public outreach, serve as interns, or assist with activities onsite.
Through the television program "Hope for Wildlife," now in its tenth season, viewers from around the world have been able to witness the diversity of the province's wildlife and to witness the expert and compassionate care given to countless injured animals.
In addition to providing care, and educational programming, Swinimer has contributed to the development of rules and regulations related to the province's wildlife, nature, and natural resources. This wholistic approach to preserving and enhancing our natural environment shows that education through rehabilitation is key to a sustainable future.