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Spreading kindness in dark times: Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award Winners Part 2

From left to right: Athanasius Sylliboy, Richard Martell, Mary Janet MacDonald (photo: Bob Martin Photography), Vince Landry and Anni IsenorThe Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award is about recognizing some of Nova Scotia’s unsung heroes who have put others first and gone the extra mile to serve their communities during the pandemic. A committee chose the 20 winners from 179 outstanding applications – scroll to the bottom to learn more about the award.

Read on to meet five more award winners. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more winner profiles on the blog. See previous profiles.

Athanasius Sylliboy, Eskasoni
Athanasius Sylliboy is being honoured for being a community leader committed to keeping people safe and healthy across Mi’kma’ki. While working as a nurse practitioner during the day, Sylliboy would spend his evenings making self-isolation packages and developing COVID-19 information, including educational videos, posters and other materials, in both English and Mi’kmaw, to disperse across Mi’kmaw communities. He also helped develop a COVID-19 community hotline providing education on COVID-19 and support to families who were self-isolating, helping people with language barriers access essential information. He is now helping facilitate the vaccine clinic at Eskasoni.

Richard Martell, Falmouth
Richard Martell is being recognized for helping to ensure that vulnerable Nova Scotians receive the information they need to stay healthy and safe. As Nova Scotia’s main sign language interpreter, Martell has been a calm and consistent presence during media briefings about the pandemic. No matter how bad the news, he communicates it with poise and enthusiasm, making sure all Nova Scotians understand the message. His unspoken emotion through sign language has been an inspiration for better times ahead.

Mary Janet MacDonald, Port Hood
Mary Janet MacDonald is being honoured for providing inspiration and comfort to people through her Tunes and Wooden Spoons Facebook show. Every Sunday afternoon throughout the pandemic, MacDonald has been live streaming her recipes, songs and conversations with more than 50,000 followers, helping boost morale for those stuck at home and missing loved ones. Her show often features live music from Cape Breton performers and MacDonald always signs off by telling people how much she cares about them.

Vince Landry, Dartmouth
Vince Landry is being recognized for lifting the spirits of his community during COVID-19. In March 2020, he began drawing images on the sidewalks near his home, initially focusing on houses where young children lived who he knew were spending long days at home due to school closures. His drawing route quickly expanded to include multiple houses on several streets. Landry threw himself into the activity with passion and zeal, spending hours drawing superheroes, TV characters, riddles and jokes. People were always excited to see him walking with his knee pad, box of multicoloured chalk and plans. His art kept the people in his community, and passersby, smiling and positive during a difficult time.

Anni Isenor, Halifax
Anni Isenor is being recognized for playing a critical role in lifting the spirits of the Northwood community by creating the “Noise for Northwood” online group. She organized rallies, antique car shows and other special events to show support and boost morale among Northwood residents, staff and families during the pandemic.

About the award
In December 2020, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, donated some of the zany neckties he had worn to help lighten the mood during the year’s COVID-19 media briefings to decorate a Christmas tree for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia’s annual Festival of Trees fundraiser. Doctors Nova Scotia was the successful bidder for that Christmas tree.

The Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award was created so the neckties could continue to uplift and inspire Nova Scotians, in honour of Dr. Strang and the team at Nova Scotia Public Health. Doctors Nova Scotia partnered with Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health to offer this award. A committee with representatives from each organization reviewed 179 nominations and selected 20 winners.

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