Alumni prize program awards community-minded visionaries

By Steve Gow

Dalhousie University wants to ensure that its top alumni making strides to improve the betterment of community gets the recognition they deserve.

As such, the 2023 Aurum Awards celebrate not only the outstanding work Dalhousie alumni are doing locally, but around the world — and this year’s crop of esteemed winners certainly deserve every bit of recognition.

Aimed at rewarding those who have made great achievements in research and innovation as well as community involvement and leadership, their contributions have led to the welfare and prosperity of others.

“The Aurum Award winners demonstrate the caliber of Dal alumni who contribute to the social, cultural and economic well-being of society,” says Dalhousie University’s acting president, Dr. Frank Harvey in a news release. “We are honoured to recognize them for their outstanding accomplishments and leadership in their respective communities.”

Among this year’s six winners is Dr. Margaret Oulton, who was selected by community members, fellow alumni, faculty and staff as the Aurum Awards very first Gold Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

That inaugural recognition went to Dr. Oulton for her longstanding connection and commitment to Dalhousie during the university’s annual Alumni Days weekend.

“Dr. Oulton is a treasured member of our Dalhousie community,” says Dr. Harvey. “He many outstanding contributions as a lead medical researcher in the Faculty of Medicine have been critical to building Dalhousie’s legacy in improving health outcomes for women and infants. We are very pleased to recognize her dedication and commitment with this special honour.”

Other winners of the award this year include Dr. Nada Haider, a Halifax-based dentist, educator and volunteer who helped kick-start an event at Halifax’s North End Community Health Centre (NECHC) in which community members had the chance to obtain dentistry work free of charge.

Igor Yushchenko is a Halifax lawyer who offered legal advice to fellow Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. To date, Yushchenko has personally assisted more than 200 families fleeing the situation in Ukraine.

Athanasius Sylliboy is a Mi’kmaq nurse practitioner and activist whose work has racked up such accolades as the 2019 Nova Scotia Rising Star Award from the College of Registered Nurses and the Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award in 2021. A leader in their community, Sylliboy advocates for better health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

Classically trained composer and performer Jeremy Dutcher has had an impact on the way his traditional tribal language of Wolastoqiyik is shared and celebrated. As a role model for Indigenous people who identify as LGBTQIA2S+, his debut album earned the 2018 Polaris Music Prize.

The Honourable Justice Mona Lynch is a Halifax judge and regional director of the International Association of Women Judges. Notably, Judge Lynch joined forces with other female judges from across the globe in 2021 to shine a light on 250 female colleagues who were attempting to escape Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Her life’s mission is to ensure they all find freedom safely and securely.


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