Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane won Legislator of the Year at Springtide Collective’s Better Politics Awards in Halifax, while the River John Support Our School committee was nominated for Movement of the Year.
“Winning it was a double honour yesterday because it was International Women’s Day. It was a real validation for me and for all the women that witness this, we are moving forward and we are giving back positive dividends,” MacFarlane said.
Legislator of the Year is awarded to an MLA who has “made a valuable contribution to public policy debates,” “worked effectively across party lines with community members and organization,” “shown intelligence and wisdom on the issues they speak about in debates,” and “served as an example of the important role” MLAs hold.
She was up against Maureen MacDonald and Randy Delorey, and was chosen through secret ballot by other MLAs. She was also up for the Rising Star Award.
MacFarlane said it was a feel-good event, noting it was exciting for her to be there and see the SOS committee nominated.
Sheree Fitch, who has long been involved with the efforts to create a hub proposal for River John’s school and was at the awards, said it was gratifying for the committee to be recognized for years of work and for it not to have been in vain.
Though the school closure was not the result they wanted, Fitch said the committee doesn’t feel they failed, noting they won over half of the school board and created something “new and innovative that could have very well worked” with very few set parameters on how to create a hub proposal.
“We think we shone a light on rural coastal education in Nova Scotia, not just in Nova Scotia, maybe in the Maritimes,” she said, adding that there’s a connection between school closures and rural communities dying.
She said for some of the volunteers, it’s been a four- to five-year journey since the beginning of the school review process, and this nomination is recognition for them that standing up for children and communities is “something worth doing.”
The winners of Movement of the Year were the Take Action Society, a Dartmouth-based group focused on making positive changes in their community. The Nova Scotia film jobs movement was also a nominee.
This is the second year for the awards put on by Springtide Collective, which is a non-partisan organization that is trying to bridge “the gap between Nova Scotians and our democratic institutions.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda