Province announces recipients of Senior Islander of the Year Awards for 2023
Six Island seniors have been named Senior Islanders of the Year for their outstanding contributions to communities across the province.
The Senior Islander of the Year Awards were created to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of Island seniors in areas like volunteering, artistic achievement, fundraising, sports/recreation, and business.
The 2023 Senior Islander of the Year Award recipients are:
- Betty Begg Brooks, of Charlottetown;
- Georgina Knockwood Crane, of St. Andrews;
- Mari Basiletti, of Canoe Cove;
- Myron Yates, of Glencoe;
- Bernadette Gallant, of St. Louis; and
- Anne Marie Richard, of Tignish.
“These six individuals are a deserving group of Islanders to receive this honour, and I am thrilled we have the opportunity to celebrate and recognize their work through these awards. Every year, the number of people nominated for a Senior Islander of the Year award increases – an indication of the incredible work being done by Island seniors.”
- Social Development and Seniors Minister Barb Ramsay
“This year’s honourees are a wonderful group of individuals who are enhancing Island life, and reminding us that age is no limit when it comes to making a difference,” said Audrey Morris, Chair of PEI Seniors’ Secretariat.
2023 Senior Islander of the Year Recipients:
Myron Yates is a successful and devoted fundraiser, volunteer and leader. Myron has been the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters PEI for the last 13 years. Over these years, Myron has led many initiatives to support children and youth across PEI. Most recently, through his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters PEI, Myron supported the Office of Seniors in developing TechNTalk – a series of events that pair students and seniors together help assist seniors in feeling more comfortable in using technology.
Prior to his time with Big Brothers Big Sisters PEI, Myron had a lifelong career as a teacher and principal in a variety of communities across PEI. In addition, he served as a member of the Canadian Association of Principals.
Myron has also been involved in a variety of other community engagement activities, including the Trans Rights Rally, Pride Parade, and UNICEF.
His nominator perfectly captured why Myron deserves to be recognized for his contributions: “I would like to nominate Myron because I see his daily commitment to the community, and his active demonstration of what seniors can contribute. I witness his outstanding leadership and willingness to help others. He doesn’t let age slow him down or keep him from being a highly productive member of the community he cares so much about.”
Mari is 75 years of age and resides in Canoe Cove. She is an active member of the Canoe Cove Women’s Institute and the Canoe Cove Association, showing her passion and dedication to her community.
Mari worked in Community Mental Health for over 10 years, and also worked as an Occupational Therapist at Hillsborough Hospital. Mari was a founding member of the PEI Occupational Therapy Society. Additionally, in 2006, Marie received her Master of Science degree from Dalhousie University.
Mari was a member of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women for five years, and was Chair of this Council between 2016 and 2018. Recently, Mari joined the Chair’s Circle for Gender Equality PEI. Her nominator highlighted Mari’s enduring vivacity, care and passion, which is evident throughout every aspect of her life.
At 75 years of age, Bernadette Gallant continues to be an avid volunteer and community member. Bernadette offers her time and assistance with many organizations, including with the St. Louis Home and School, the Palmer Road Immaculate Conception Church, Miminegash Fire Minettes, Centre Acadian de Prince-Ouest, Knights of Columbus, and Catholic Women’s League.
Over the last few years, Bernadette has become the primary caretaker of her husband, Gerard, who is in the early stages of dementia. While caring for her husband, she continues to volunteer and help wherever she is needed.
The individual who nominated Bernadette summed up perfectly why she is so deserving of this award: “Bernadette is always willing to offer a helping hand…She doesn’t let age slow her down and is the perfect example of aging graciously and living life to the fullest.”
Georgina Knockwood Crane
Georgina Knockwood Crane is a proud Mi’kmaq Elder. She is fluent in Mi’kmaq and is strong in her knowledge of cultural traditions and practices. She is dedicated to ensuring that Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge is passed down.
Georgina is a long-standing member of the Native Council of PEI (NCPEI). She is currently the Elder Representative on NCPEI’s Board of Directors, which is a volunteer position that she was elected to. Georgina also volunteers as a Mi’kmaq language instructor at NCPEI Language classes.
Georgina and her husband were also foster parents for 30 years, offering a safe and accepting space for children and youth who required it.
Her nominator wanted to honor her volunteerism, community involvement in activities and engagement, ability to engage other Elders, and her dedication to ensuring Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge is passed down.
Anne Marie Richard
At 81 years old, Anne Marie Richard is the perfect positive image of aging.
Anne Marie is a mother to 10 children. Anne Marie made sure that they all received an education and pursued their passions. She is also a proud Acadian, and works to promote the Acadian culture both within her family and within her community.
Anne Marie, who resides in Tignish, is an active member of the community. She sits on the Ladies Auxiliary as the past president and is a member of the Legion Sports Committee. She is also a member of the local gardening club.
Anne Marie also volunteers a great deal of her time in the community: she volunteers at community bingos, funeral luncheons and other fundraisers, including those targeted to supporting other seniors in the community. She has also assisted with the lighted walkway for the Saint Simon and Jude trap tree lighting event.
Anne Marie is a very active person who enjoys playing darts, shuffleboard, and bowling. She is also a very active card player, and both enjoys hosting card games and representing the local Legion as a player.
To quote Anne Marie’s nominator: “We wish there were more Anne Marie’s around our town because her joy of life, selflessness, and her positive attitude are inspiring to many.”
Betty Begg Brooks
Betty Begg Brooks is a compassionate community leader.
Betty is the founder of Gifts from the Heart Inc. This organization aims to meet the needs of low-income PEI residents and those going through hardships, through acts such as providing food, clothes, and furniture. In the past few years, Betty has worked to expand the service, both in terms of physical location (moving from her house to a warehouse) and geographically (across the province).
Her nominator did an incredible job of describing Betty’s contributions and personality, stating that: “She is one of a kind: fiercely compassionate and caring, authentic, a trailblazer, community builder, humanitarian, mentor, mother, friend, partner, senior, and “Islander.” How very fortunate we all are to have her to learn from – one who “knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way” each day – an inspiring senior community builder.”
Department of Social Development and Seniors