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Premier Furey and Minister Warr Present 2020 Seniors of Distinction Awards

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by ahnationtalk on October 1, 2020322 Views

October 1, 2020

As part of the Provincial Government’s celebration of October 1 as National Seniors Day, the Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Honourable Brian Warr, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, presented awards today (Wednesday, October 1) to the 2020 Seniors of Distinction.

The Seniors of Distinction Awards celebrate the contributions, achievements and diversity of older persons throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year’s recipients are Doris Butt of Corner Brook, Lloyd Colbourne of Robert’s Arm, Rosemary Lester of Torbay, Patrick (Paddy) McNeil of Pasadena and Emma Reelis of St. John’s. Further information on each of the award winners is available in the backgrounder below.

Today also marks International Day of Older Persons as declared by the United Nations. The United Nations flag was raised at Confederation Building this morning in recognition.

“The richness of the culture and heritage of our province is due in large part to the incredible contributions our seniors have made over the years. They dedicate themselves to sharing their knowledge and experience with all of us through their involvement in their communities, and in doing so have made our province an incredible place to live. The recipients of the 2020 Seniors of Distinction Awards have set examples for all to follow, and I congratulate them on receiving this honour.”
Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

“Spending time with seniors in our province always inspires me, as they carry the knowledge and wisdom of generations past and share them with generations to come. The 2020 recipients of the Seniors of Distinction Awards are wonderful examples of how this transfer of knowledge enriches our society. My sincere congratulations to each of them, as they receive this recognition today.”
Honourable Brian Warr
Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development

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Learn more
Seniors of Distinction Awards

Follow us on Twitter: @GovNL and @CSSD_GovNL

Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier

Gina MacArthur
Children, Seniors and Social Development
709-729-3768, 730-2977


Biographies of Seniors of Distinction Award Recipients

Doris Butt
Doris Butt was born in Petries Cove, Newfoundland in 1952. Her children describe her as “like having a bolt of lightning for a mother.” Her volunteer contributions span the Atlantic Provinces and include fundraising, church groups, sports teams, Girl Guides, and serving as a foster parent. In addition to fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Kidney Foundation for more than 35 years, she has been a church volunteer for most of her life. Doris worked to incorporate ski packages at Marble Mountain as a regular component of physical education for children in the area. Her commitment to children and physical activity included serving as the secretary, treasurer, and coach for the Humber Valley Speed Skating Club – leading the club to participate in three Canada Winter Games. Doris has also been a founder and leader for community groups throughout the Corner Brook area, including serving on the executive of the Scottish Heritage Society, initiating a writing group, and serving on the organizing committee for the Western Newfoundland Heritage Fair.

Lloyd Colbourne
Lloyd Colbourne was born in Robert’s Arm, Green Bay in 1938 and has been described as a community minded individual, serving as a member of almost every committee in his home town. In addition to 35 years as a mayor and town councillor, Lloyd served on a variety of committees related to the economic and civil development of his community. This included the fire department, ambulance committee, Green Bay Economic Development Association, and the Public Library Board. His community involvement extended to supporting both the local faith and health care communities by his participation in organizations such as the Centennial United Church, United Church of Canada, Health Care Committee for Green Bay South, and the Community Advisory Committee for the Central/West Heath Care Board. Lloyd actively supports seniors’ groups and activities as a member of the Robert’s Arm Seniors Peer Advocate group and as Vice Chairperson of Active Living for Older Adults. With the onset of COVID-19, Lloyd helped the community secure grants to support seniors and others struggling during the pandemic.

Rosemary Lester
A Newfoundlander and Labradorian by choice, Rosemary Lester was born in Bristol, United Kingdom in 1943. As a committed volunteer in the area of health care and seniors’ well-being, Rosemary has dedicated years to improving the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians across the lifespan. In 2015, she joined the Patient Advisory Council of the Newfoundland and Labrador SUPPORT Unit, participating in patient engagement in health research. Rosemary joined SeniorsNL (formerly the Seniors Resource Centre) in 1990, was named Executive Director in 1992, and still serves on the board of directors. A small sample of programs initiated during Rosemary’s tenure include the Toll-Free Seniors’ Information Line and Seniors’ Guide to Programs and Services, the Rural Peer Advocate program, Mall Walker Club, and Snowbusters. In addition to these programs, Rosemary is involved in a wide variety of projects and research on issues facing seniors. Rosemary has shown a strong commitment to combatting elder abuse, including the formation of the Interagency Elder Abuse Committee and the publication of ‘Looking Beyond the Hurt: A Service Provider’s Guide to Elder Abuse.’

Patrick (Paddy) McNeil
Patrick (Paddy) McNeil was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1954 and came to Newfoundland and Labrador through his career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After a long career in the province, Paddy and his family chose to remain following his retirement in 2009. Paddy’s commitment to his community includes both the formal and informal, ranging from his appointment as the Deputy Delegate on the Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Committee for the Diocese of Corner Brook, to helping new Canadians in his neighbourhood learn to ride a bike so they had transportation to work. During COVID-19, Paddy initiated the ‘Paddy’s Wagon Food Bank Pickup.’ Through this initiative, Paddy and his volunteers collected food by appointment and brought it to the food bank. Over a period of 14 weeks, Paddy’s Wagon collected 2,500 pounds of food and over $6,000 from 554 individual donors. Funds were used to purchase food for those who could not travel to do so. While learning to play guitar, he started the Pasadena Music and Friends Camp through grant applications and donations from the Knights of Columbus Hall. Despite COVID-19, this intergenerational activity has continued, with Paddy staying in contact and developing lessons for people to follow. Paddy has become a go-to person in the community for all groups looking to fundraise and he is always willing to help.

Emma Reelis
Originally from Nain, Emma Reelis has served as President and Vice-President of First Light. Emma is described as having “a passion for society, culture, and community health.” Emma adds tremendous value to her community in her role as an Inuit elder, fulfilling the role of mentor, cultural advisor and role model. A previous winner of the Diamond Jubilee Award for her work with youth, women, and Indigenous people, Emma continues to work at all levels of society to contribute to the cultural health and well-being of the Indigenous communities in the province. As an Inuit elder, Emma spends much of her time offering prayers and land acknowledgements at various events throughout the province.


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