Province aims to reward Nova Scotians who volunteer

By Steve Gow

The province is looking for a few good volunteers.

As it has been doing for nearly 50 years, the government is preparing to hand out a set of awards to the most passionate and dedicated Nova Scotians who give up their time and energy for others in the province.

Since 1974, the Provincial Volunteer Awards have been paying tribute to the more than 410,000 Nova Scotians that dedicate their time to help their communities each and every year.

According the province’s number crunching, that is equal to just under 80 million hours of volunteering in total.

“Volunteers, they play such an important role in our communities — it just brings our communities alive,” says Pat Dunn, Nova Scotia’s minister responsible for the Voluntary Sector.

“When you think of trying to create healthy communities, volunteers are certainly a major part of that happening because they not only provide support, they offer their time and basically, often help communities thrive and grow in challenging times.”

Chosen by a citizens’ committee, the recipients of the award are selected based on their passion and distinct dedication to volunteerism and invited to attend a special ceremony that will include Premier Tim Houston, Lieutenant Governor Arthur J. LeBlanc as well as Dunn.

“It is September 25th,” says Dunn about the big awards night, the location as yet not announced. “It is a dinner reception where all the recipients have their moment to be recognized and appreciated and receive the appreciation award.”

There are several categories in which Nova Scotians can be nominated for a Provincial Volunteer Award.

The Youth Volunteer Award is dedicated to those who are aged between 13 and 24, while the Family Volunteer Award honours a family of two people or more living in the same community.

However, there is also a third award — the Nova Scotia Strong Award.

“It’s sort of a legacy award,” notes Dunn, who is also the longtime MLA for Pictou Centre. He adds the Nova Scotia Strong Award originated in the wake of the mass shooting tragedy that occurred on April 18 and 19, 2020 across northern and central regions of Nova Scotia.

“That Nova Scotia Strong award sort of came out of that, where every year the award will go toward an individual or a group who have demonstrated the resilience of Nova Scotians during a particular time or maybe during an event when people have faced tragedy or major struggles.”

The Provincial Volunteer Awards also include the representative (individual) volunteer award in which each municipality and Mi’kmaw community may select a person for the prize.

With the submission deadline quickly approaching on May 23, Dunn is encouraging people to get their nominations in as soon as possible to ensure potential candidates don’t get overlooked. However, he does not anticipate a shortage of respondents.

“One thing that’s been consistent every single year is the fact that there is no trouble finding someone that’s deserving of the award — it’s an easy task, there are so many volunteers,” says Dunn.

“It is just one way we can show our appreciation for the commitment that they have toward whatever endeavour they are involved in and in whatever community they live in.”

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