Seven Outstanding Newfoundlanders and Labradorians Receive Province’s Highest Honour
The following is being distributed at the request of His Honour the Honourable Frank Fagan, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador:
The dedication and commitment to excellence demonstrated by seven residents of this province was acknowledged today at the 2013 Order of Newfoundland and Labrador induction ceremony at Government House.
Today’s inductees are Bridget Foster, Dr. Jane Stuart Green, Margaret Kearney, Colleen Kennedy, Gilbert Linstead, Sara Rita Sexton, and Kevin St. George. Biographies of these individuals are provided in the backgrounder below. General Rick Hillier, also named a recipient of the 2013 Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, was unable to attend today’s ceremony and will be inducted at a later date.
“It was my great pleasure to honour these deserving individuals with the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador today,” said the Honourable Frank Fagan. “They are to be commended for their dedication and commitment to our province and its people.”
The Honourable Tom Marshall, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, joined His Honour at today’s ceremony and expressed his congratulations to this year’s recipients.
“On behalf of the people of our province, I extend congratulations and thanks to the latest recipients of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Premier Marshall. “I offer my deepest appreciation to the men and women receiving this great honour for the significant contributions they make in our communities and abroad. Through their steadfast dedication, ongoing commitment and selfless actions, the seven individuals inducted today have indeed enhanced the lives of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”
Each individual was presented with an insignia of the Order, a stylized pitcher plant, a lapel pin and a certificate signed by the Chancellor, the Honourable Frank Fagan, and embossed with the Seal of the Order.
For more information, please visit www.gov.nl.ca/onl.
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Individuals Inducted into 2013 Order of Newfoundland and Labrador
Bridget Foster, O.N.L.
An immigrant herself, Ms. Foster moved to Newfoundland and Labrador with her family in 1978 and has been giving back to her adopted home ever since. Without any doubt, the lives of thousands of immigrants have been influenced by her on a very personal level.
Bridget Foster began her work in the area of immigration as a volunteer with the Friends of Refugees, the forerunner of the current organization the Association for New Canadians, and held the post of Executive Director for over 30 years. Under her stewardship, the association evolved significantly and today, over 50 employees and 125 volunteers deliver language, employment and other settlement services to newcomers in the province.
Ms. Foster is a person of great foresight and vision. She was the driving force behind the formation of the Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies. With her national colleagues she formed the national settlement umbrella group, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance. Further, she championed bringing the Metropolis project to the Atlantic region, a project that played an important role in supporting research that sought to inform government decision-making on immigration policy.
Bridget Foster has been involved with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women and the RCMP Race Relations Committee. She is currently a member of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Deputy Minister’s Advisory Council, providing strategic advice concerning immigration, refugees, multiculturalism and citizenship.
Here in the province, Ms, Foster was instrumental in forming the Coordinating Committee on Newcomer Integration which includes representation from federal, provincial and municipal governments, Memorial University, and the Association for New Canadians. She was also a significant contributor to the province’s immigration and multiculturalism policies.
In recognition of her efforts, commitment and years of service, she was presented with the Citation for Citizenship by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in 2003, as well as Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. Most recently in 2012, Ms. Foster was presented with the prestigious Paul Yuzyk Lifetime Achievement Award for Multiculturalism.
Bridget Foster’s formidable drive and intelligence has been a cornerstone in building immigration policies and programs that enable immigrants and refugees to become fully engaged Canadian citizens across Newfoundland and Labrador. While she officially retired from the Association of New Canadians in December 2013, there is no doubt that she will continue to work tirelessly to improve immigrant outcomes.
Jane S. Green, O.N.L., B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD, F.C.C.M.G., F.C.A.H.S.
Dr. Green has spent her lifetime working tirelessly to identify families with inherited disease in the province all the while carefully and accurately documenting the medical aspects of the conditions. Her research has led to the discovery of numerous disease-causing genes and mutations in Newfoundland and Labrador families. This work has improved the health of families in this province and provided the international health community with insight into the molecular basis of disease and a biochemical understanding of several forms of cancer and blindness.
Jane Green completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1964 and her Master of Science (Genetics) at UBC with Dr. David Suzuki in 1965. A chance meeting with Dr. Gordon Johnson, an ophthalmologist interested in hereditary eye diseases, led to the beginning of her genetics career in this province. Starting in 1978, she worked with Dr. Johnson to study the causes of blindness and to conduct a weekly Ocular Genetics clinic, in St. John’s and in rural areas, providing investigations, diagnosis and genetic counselling for many families. Referral of a family with hereditary eye and other tumours in 1982 led to the study of hereditary cancers.
Dr. Green completed her PhD at Memorial University in 1995, her thesis documenting the development and provision of clinical and genetic screening programs for early diagnosis and treatment of tumours in hereditary endocrine diseases and hereditary colon cancers. Author of 108 scientific papers, she has given hundreds of presentations at local, national and international meetings, at genetics departments across Canada and most importantly to health care providers, families and the public throughout the province. A dedicated teacher, since 1998 Dr. Green has contributed to the first year medicine genetics course, instilling the value and importance of recognition of hereditary disease in medical specialties.
In 2008 Dr. Green was invited to be an Honorary Life Member of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, and received a national CIHR-Knowledge Translation award. She has been recognized by numerous organizations, including her appointment to the initial Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute of Genetics of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research from 2001 to 2004 and was the 2012 recipient of the Founders Award from the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists. Most recently, in 2013, she was inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
Dr. Jane Green has provided hope, lessened fear, improved knowledge and decreased illness and death. As important as her work is to families in our province, its impact on the healthcare system will continue to serve Canadians and others around the world for years to come.
Margaret Kearney, O.N.L.
Born in St. John’s, Mrs. Kearney attended Mercy Convent and then joined the Royal Canadian Navy at age 19. She was discharged after two years, married Gerald Kearney and together they raised four children.
Margaret Kearney has always had a desire to promote this beautiful and intriguing part of the world to others. From 1978 to 1992 she worked for the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and in this role, she became the voice of our province in international media. She promoted the province as one of the most exotic and interesting places in the world and worked tirelessly to influence travel writers and broadcasters to visit. She attracted European and British writers to come see and hear the traces of their descendants. She convinced American and Canadian writers to come and experience the natural beauty and history of one of North America’s oldest settlements.
As a result of her efforts, the province gained membership in exclusive travel writer clubs. Articles extolling the virtues of this province appeared in travel articles, prominent newspapers, travel journals and radio and television broadcasts. The impact of her work was incredible, driving publicity that was worth millions, when advertising budgets and marketing programs were miniscule.
Mrs. Kearney was instrumental in setting guidelines for the Bed and Breakfast industry. In her travels throughout the province, she became aware of the inadequacies in some properties and the lack of standards in the Hospitality Homes, as they were then called. It became her mission to improve these properties and develop standards. She instilled in owners and operators the importance of good hospitality and a willingness to go the extra mile to please guests. She wanted to ensure that visitors to this province could expect and have the comforts and amenities they would experience elsewhere in the world.
Margaret Kearney was responsible for creating the Wild Orchid Award for the Bed and Breakfast industry; an award that was presented each year at the Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador annual convention for 20 years.
Mrs. Kearney is also known within the radio broadcasting community. She was invited by the CBC to fill in as host of The Bob MacLean Show for a week; conceived and presented a children’s program on VOCM called ‘Nan Nan Maggs’ at a time when there was no radio programming targeted to children; and, developed four one-hour episodes of ‘Radio 65’ for the senior’s community that received high ratings and acclaim.
Colleen Kennedy, O.N.L.
Colleen Kennedy has been the Executive Director of the Gros Morne Cooperative Association since 1993. Through her efforts, vision, integrity and dedication, this non-profit organization has successfully exceeded its original mandate over the last 19 years and is now recognized as one of the province’s leading social-entrepreneurial groups.
Ms. Kennedy has been pivotal in transforming the Gros Morne region into a destination of choice within the national and international tourism industry through her work with the Gros Morne Cooperating Association, Gros Morne Gatherings, Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism and the Red Ochre Economic Development Board. As a driver behind the Gros Morne Cultural Blueprint to develop the region as a destination for the arts, she has demonstrated a keen understanding and appreciation of the relationship between the tourism sector and other sectors that together create a world class tourism destination. She has worked tirelessly to see the fulfillment of her vision of tourism in this province, such as serving as Co-chair of the first International Sustainable Summit in Rocky Harbour in 2008. Further, Colleen co-chairs the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour Rural Secretariat Regional Council and is a member of the Provincial Council.
Through her volunteer positions with the Western Destination Marketing Organization and the regional Tourism Advisory Boards, she has been a key influencer in shaping the growth of the tourism industry for the entire province. She has championed best practices and built strong networks of stakeholders in a supportive approach to tourism development in Newfoundland and Labrador. Colleen is also a member of Memorial University’s Expert Working Group for Public Engagement and Research Framework External Advisory Committee.
Those who live in the Gros Morne area will undoubtedly tell you that there is not an organization, committee, or association that Colleen is not involved with. She had a lead role in the establishment of the Rocky Harbour swimming pool, the Woody Point Discovery Centre, the Killdevil centre at Lomond, the Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism and the Gros Morne National Park craft stores, among many others. She is crucial to the continuous procession of special events including music and theatre events, conferences, workshops and festivals, which she organizes as part of the Gros Morne Cultural Blueprint, situating the Gros Morne area as a national and international hub for creative activity.
Her success is due to her unique combination of intelligence, financial acumen, communication skills and most of all, her intense passion for her home province and region. Her commitment and persistence have never faltered.
Gilbert Linstead, O.N.L.
Mr. Linstead, born and raised in L’Anse au Loup, completed his post-secondary education at the College of Fisheries, which is now the Marine Institute. In 1981, he joined the Labrador Fisherman’s Union Shrimp Company Limited (LFUSCL), a cooperatively-owned company that is owned by the full-time fishers of coastal Labrador. When Mr. Linstead became general manager of the company in 1989, the company was facing many financial challenges, had limited growth and restricted earnings. Under his leadership, the LFUSCL became one of the great success stories of the fishing industry in our province. Gilbert Linstead transformed an unstable, unprofitable company into an international exporting business − growing the sales from four million to over 80 million today. Today he also serves as President of Labrador Choice Seafoods and Vice President of M/V Osprey Ltd., subsidiaries of the parent company LFUSCL.
His skillful management of the LFUSCL has provided a tremendous service to coastal Labrador. The company currently employs 700 people in the rural areas of southern Labrador and the company operates five profitable processing facilities and three offshore fishing vessels. The LFUSCL’s growth and development under his leadership has benefitted all of coastal Labrador from L’Anse au Clair to Cartwright.
Mr. Linstead is known as a hardworking, responsible and forthright individual and these characteristics have been recognized and respected on the numerous boards and industry associations on which he has served. He has held membership with the Fisheries Council of Canada, Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation, Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee, Northern Shrimp Research Foundation, Groundfish Advisory Committee for the Gulf Region, Pelagics Advisory Committee, Northern Coalition, and the Association of Seafood Producers.
Gilbert Linstead is extremely well respected within the fishing industry as evidenced by his election as Chair of the Fisheries Council of Canada in 2006. His honest, direct approach to business is appreciated and respected by all participants in the industry.
Mr. Linstead was instrumental in the establishment of the community council for L’Anse au Loup in 1975 and served as secretary/treasurer for the council from 1975 to 1980. He championed the establishment of the Eagle River Credit Union and served on the board as vice-president for approximately three years. His commitment is to be admired and his accomplishments can be seen every day in the communities along the south coast of Labrador.
Sara Rita Sexton, O.N.L.
Mrs. Sexton was born in St. Mary’s Bay and was the second youngest of 11 children. She graduated from teacher’s college in 1941 and not only taught in the school system over her career but also tutored struggling students on her own time.
Sara Sexton raised nine children with her husband Ned. In 1993, at the very height of the AIDS epidemic, her son Tommy died of complications from the disease. And while this would be devastating for any mother, Mrs. Sexton’s situation was unique in that Tommy was a much loved entertainer. For many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Tommy was the first person they knew or cared about who died of AIDS and so, as a result of Tommy’s celebrity, Sara Sexton’s loss was a very public one. Through her experience, Mrs. Sexton came to understand firsthand the many challenges including stigma and discrimination confronting persons living with HIV/AIDS and the families who cared for them. After Tommy died, she took every opportunity to speak publicly about the disease and how society’s ignorance about it added to the suffering and ostracism of patients and their families. She spoke up loudly and clearly about gay rights and the reality of HIV/AIDS. Her actions gave strength to countless parents who felt the social stigma of their child’s sexual orientation.
Thanks to Sara Sexton’s pioneering efforts, our community care for people with HIV/AIDS is greatly improved. Mrs. Sexton became a member of the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador and spearheaded the formation of the Tommy Sexton Family Foundation; a foundation which raises money to assist patients to pay for their medications and treatments, provides emergency shelter, affordable housing, addictions outreach services, care, treatment and support services to patients and their families. Over the years, the foundation has contributed over $200,000 to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living with HIV/AIDS.
In addition to her advocacy in the area of HIV/AIDS, throughout her life, Sara Sexton has given back to her community in numerous other ways. She has taught English to new Canadians, recorded books onto cassettes for the blind, delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors and, along with her now deceased husband, volunteered at cancer clinics.
Sara Sexton epitomizes the spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador through her strength and courage; her ability to lead by example, to overcome tragedy and to do great things in the face of difficult circumstances. At 90-plus years of age, Sara Sexton still embodies the meaning of community service. Through her volunteerism with the Kiwanis Club, the ACNL and her church, she continues to deliver the message of hope in our province.
Kevin St. George, O.N.L., P.Eng., F.E.I.C.
Kevin St. George was born in Deer Lake. He earned a Diploma of Engineering from Memorial University and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Technical University of Nova Scotia. At the same time, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve), in which he participated for 12 years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. After completing his studies, he returned to Corner Brook to begin his career at Bowater Newfoundland Limited in 1949 (now Corner Brook Pulp & Paper Limited).
As Chair of the Corner Brook Port Corporation, Mr. St. George brought a wealth of expertise to the boardroom table and had a vision for the city and the port that encouraged future growth and expansion. He recognized the importance of creating a vibrant community with opportunities for individuals and businesses to build a future for their families and organizations. During his tenure on the Board of Directors of the Deer Lake Airport Authority from 1998 to 2003, Mr. St. George was instrumental in helping establish sound business principles and practices that have led to the success of the Deer Lake Regional Airport. This business model, and market driven approach, continues to guide the organization today.
An avid skier himself until his mid-70s, Mr. St. George began volunteering with the Marble Mountain Ski Club in the 1960s. Over the years he held various positions, including president of the club. He worked tirelessly to develop and promote the ski hill as a valuable revenue generating tourism destination for western Newfoundland. His contributions are seen as an important part of its growth from a local ski club to the major resort it is today.
As a committed municipal leader, he served on Corner Brook’s city council from 1997 to 2001 following his retirement from Bowater’s. He has also been a dedicated volunteer with the Victorian Order of Nurses and has held various positions within the organization at the local, provincial and national level.
Mr. St. George has been recognized as an asset to his chosen profession of engineering. In 1974, he was awarded the distinction of Fellow from the Engineering Institute of Canada which identifies and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the profession and is a great honour.
At 87 years of age, Kevin St. George is a dedicated volunteer with the Royal Canadian Legion and visits weekly with the veterans residing in Corner Brook. For 61 years he has been married to Blanche Williams, R.N., and together they have six children and 11 grandchildren.
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