A politician, a peace activist, a Holocaust survivor, a Mi’kmaq leader and a food bank pioneer were the five newest recipients of the Order of Nova Scotia yesterday.
The award recognizes invaluable contributions to society.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Halifax’s Mel Boutilier, who operates the Parker Street Food Bank. “First it’s a shock, then it sinks in that it’s such an honour.”
Boutilier was named one of the five Order recipients out of 79 nominees for his years working to feed the poor.
“I normally think people who receive these honours are people who are great writers or poets or scientists, something in those fields,” he said after a ceremony yesterday at Province House.
“But when somebody like myself, who came from a very poor family, worked hard as a kid and became involved in community work helping other people, to think that the work I do is noticed makes it for me a special honour.”
Two of the recipients sadly weren’t around to receive their awards. Famed peace activist Muriel Duckworth of Halifax died this year at the age of 100. In a speech Premier Darrell Dexter called her “our very own champion of the international peace movement.”
Michael Baker was a longtime Tory MLA and cabinet member. He passed away last spring while serving as finance minister.
He received wide praise from all parties for continuing in his job despite fighting cancer. Premier Darrell Dexter’s voice wavered when speaking of his friend who he knew since university.
Philip Riteman of Bedford is a Holocaust survivor originally from Poland who has for years shared his story of living in the Auschwitz concentration camp with others, especially young people.
Viola Robinson of Truro served as president of the Native Council of Nova Scotia for 15 years and then as president of the Native Council of Canada. She was lauded for her work to end discrimination against Mi’kmaq people.