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Health and Community Services
June 25, 2010

Newfoundland and Labrador's Seniors Honoured
with Special Awards of Distinction

The Williams Government is continuing to recognize the significant contributions that seniors make in Newfoundland and Labrador with the presentation of the second annual Seniors of Distinction Awards. The awards were presented to the recipients last evening during a ceremony at The Rooms.

Five Seniors of Distinction Award recipients were chosen by a selection committee. The recipients are Julia Best, Placentia; Agnes Brake, Little Rapids; Nellie Caul, Stephenville; John Nicholas Jeddore, Conne River; and R. Thomas Mills, St. John's.

"The Seniors of Distinction Awards Program gives us an important opportunity to further promote the significant achievements of seniors in our province," said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for Aging and Seniors. "It allows us to recognize the many contributions seniors make to their communities and society, and is one of several initiatives in which our government is investing as we prepare for an older population."

To be eligible for the awards, a senior had to be nominated by an individual or group, be 50 years of age or older, and be a current or past resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. Seniors were considered for both voluntary and paid work and nominations from last year were reviewed again this year at the request of the nominee.

The selection committee consisted of Leo Bonnell, Chair, Provincial Advisory Committee on Aging and Seniors; Dr. Gail Wideman, Gerontological Social Worker and Assistant Professor of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland; and, Minnie Vallis, 2009 Senior of Distinction.

"We are very pleased with the level of interest in the Seniors of Distinction Awards Program this year. A total of 156 nominations were received," said Minister Kennedy. "And although we couldn't select every nominee, each individual demonstrates skills, wisdom and abilities that clearly enrich the lives of others and our society as a whole."

The Seniors of Distinction Awards Program is an initiative of the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework launched in 2007. The framework outlines six priority directions together with a series of goals and actions to create an age-friendly province which supports seniors and recognizes their diversity and valuable contributions.

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Media contact:
Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646

Recipients of the 2010 Seniors of Distinction Awards

Julia Best

Mrs. Julia Best was born on Red Island in 1914 into a large family where she carried out many responsibilities. Twice married, Mrs. Best helped raise 13 children, even as she struggled with tuberculosis. As an older adult in Southern Harbour in the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Best started to volunteer formally. She established the Foggy Bay Senior Citizens' Club and an auxiliary at the Come by Chance hospital. She served on the board of the Dr. G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital, was president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation, and was instrumental in establishing many of the federation's 130 seniors clubs. Mrs. Best was a member of the National Advisory Council on Aging, advocating on many seniors' issues, including the preservation of medicare, the continued indexing of pensions, and assistance with the costs of medication for low-income seniors.

Agnes Brake

Mrs. Agnes Brake, from Little Rapids, is the mother of five children, a cancer survivor, and a wonderful volunteer. Over the past 40 years, Mrs. Brake has been diagnosed eight times with different kinds of cancer, and lost her husband to the disease. Yet, Mrs. Brake remains positive and constantly provides others with hope and inspiration. To help those living with cancer, she provides one-on-one support, speaks publicly about her experiences and wisdom as a survivor, organizes events and fundraises. Mrs. Brake serves on the administration committee of her local service district, raises money for fire departments and playgrounds, and helps organize summer camps for children and one for seniors. She is determined to make the lives of others easier.

Nellie Caul

Born in 1921, Mrs. Nellie Caul of Stephenville is the mother of Rick, Ken and Theresa; both Ken and Theresa have intellectual disabilities. Mrs. Caul's advocacy work throughout the second half of the last century is recognized as key in the movement to end the institutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities in Canada. She was a central figure in the establishment of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living, an organization dedicated to developing communities that welcome persons with developmental disabilities. Mrs. Caul was instrumental in the closure of Exon House, an institution in St. John's for persons with disabilities, and the reintegration of these individuals into the community. In the late 1970s, Mrs. Caul also successfully lobbied so that the income tax deduction for individuals who used a wheelchair would be extended to persons with intellectual disabilities.

John Nicholas Jeddore

Mr. John Nicholas Jeddore is a Mi'kmaq elder from Conne River, a member of the Miawpukek Band. Born in 1922, he became a trapper through his father's teaching. At the age of 19, Mr. Jeddore went abroad with the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit in support of the war effort. Back in Newfoundland in 1945, Mr. Jeddore married and went on to raise nine children. Disqualified from working due to tuberculosis, he transformed his shed into a store and ran his business until 2008. Today, Mr. Jeddore spends time hunting, trapping, fishing, cooking and gathering wood for himself and others. He is passing on many traditional skills, such as the fabrication of eel spears and snowshoes. Mr. Jeddore contributes to various websites and has a blog through which he shares the culture of the Mi'kmaq people.

R. Thomas Mills

Mr. Thomas Mills was born in 1933 in St. John's. As a father of five, and at the age of 34, he gave up his job to pursue post-secondary studies. He earned undergraduate degrees in Arts, Social Work and Vocational Education and eventually a Master's degree in Social Work. Mr. Mills became a skilled marriage and family counselor and as such has helped thousands of people over a 20-year period. He was the Director of the Family Life Bureau in St. John's and a founding member of Family Services Canada. Mr. Mills is a leader in many areas of social justice. He has embraced, advocated for, and guided through intricate bureaucracies, countless immigrants moving to Canada. He has spoken out on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse. His promotion of community acceptance and legal equality for gays and lesbians is yet another example of his strong community activism.

2010 06 25                                                      9:35 a.m.

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