Dr. Meaghan Keating – Physician, Island Family Health Care
Matthew Burke - Manager, Caper Radio
Frances Burton – Volunteer Coordinator, Educational Program Innovations Charity Society
Gail Christmas – Councilor, Membertou First Nation
Lori Burke – Executive Director, Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design
Vital Excellence – Employer Category
Colaisde nà Gaidhlig/The Gaelic College – The Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer
Jill’s Chocolates/Iona Heights Inn – Jill Franklin, Owner & Operator
Docmaster Digital Solutions – Danielle & Mark Patterson, Co-Founders & Owner/Operators
Sydney Credit Union – Robert Coffin, Chief Executive Officer
Downtown Nutrition – Wayne Miller, President, DTN Labs Inc.
Vital Excellence – Employee Category
Christa Carey-MacDonald – Manager of Engineering and Design Services Group, Protocase
Katherine MacLeod – Learning and Media Specialist, Highland Village Museum
Kathleen Whelan – Coordinator of Meals on Wheels, New Dawn Meals on Wheels
Rory Andrews – Community Content Coordinator, goCapeBreton.com
Amey Beaton – Tourism Development Officer, Municipality of the County of Inverness
Vital Excellence – Individual Category
Caitlyn Purcell & Sarabeth Drover
Growing up in two separate Cape Breton communities, Caitlyn, from Sydney Mines and Sarabeth, South Bar, the two business partners both summered in Ingonish where they developed a love and strong connection for the breathtaking community along the Cabot Trail. Sharing a love for travel and adventure, Caitlyn and Sarabeth can’t help but feeling a sense of nostalgia for Cape Breton whenever they spend time away from the Island. Whenever they are vacationing, they find themselves dreaming of returning to the Island they are so proud to call home. Always interested in opening a business, they couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else besides Ingonish – to them it was just a natural fit. The dream of opening their own business became a reality with the opening of Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle Café, a jewellery store, craft shop, café and bed and breakfast overlooking the beautiful Ingonish coastline. Being able to employ people in the community and see the positive impact that employment can have on an individual’s life is one of the most rewarding parts of the journey, thus far. For Caitlyn and Sarabeth, Vital means taking risks, working hard, and following through with a dream that will enrich this Island and our lives.
Dr. Meaghan Keating
Dr. Meaghan Keating has always been proud to call Mira home. Being away from the Island for ten years while attending school in both Newfoundland and Halifax, Meaghan is thrilled to be back in Cape Breton with her two Newfoundland dogs, Dory and Jib, and husband Mike. Meaghan is a family physician with Island Family Health Care and the ALLY health clinic. When it came time to decide where she wanted to do her final training and eventually start her practice, Meaghan made a list of all of the qualities she was looking for in a community - warm and welcoming people, interesting population, somewhere her and Mike could obtain a good work-life balance, a place with good music and culture, and of course near the ocean. When she looked at the description she realized she has described home and they made the move back to Cape Breton. As a physician, Meaghan’s job can be very challenging at times but also so incredibly rewarding. Each day she tries to make a difference as much as she can, whether that is making a difficult diagnosis or just a lending a listening ear. One of her favorite parts of her job is her work at the ALLY health clinic, where she sees patients who often live on the margins and may not always get the primary healthcare that everyone should have access to. Meaghan’s positive attitude and love of life will allow her to make a positive impact on Cape Breton Island.
Growing up in Louisbourg, Matthew Burke is familiar name in the Cape Breton music scene. The unbeatable connection to the music and arts community, along with the family ties are just some of the reasons Matthew continues to call Cape Breton home. Matthew is happy to have worked with Caper Radio for the past eight years. The experience with the radio has been great but he has also been able to ensure that local musicians and artists are heard and recognized – one of Matthew’s many passions. Recently, Caper Radio launched on the FM dial. Matthew credits this to the hard work of the board of directors and the stations amazing volunteers; co-workers at the station credit his tireless effort as part of the stations success. Being aired on the FM dial is an achievement that has been decades in the making and a this was his proudest moment thus far in his career. Matthew also lends his time to Gobblefest, an independent music festival that takes place during Thanksgiving each year. During Gobblefest, Matthew can be found booking venues, negotiating sponsorships, setting up and tearing down events, all with a smile on his face. To Matthew, Vital means having pride and love for your community.
Growing up in Ashby as child number six in a family of eight kids, Frances Burton was raised by hard-working parents who were invested in their community. During high school, Frances was friends with a number of international students, all from fascinating places causing her to question her parent’s decision to live in Cape Breton. As time went on and she had the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world. She soon came to the realization that Cape Breton is the place she wants to be. She loves the people, the rich musical culture, and the true beauty of the Island. Frances is actively involved in the EPIC Youth Peer Program; an after-school initiative for at-risk youth between the ages of 8-18 who are matched one-on-one with peer volunteers with the goal of overcoming academic and social challenges. She now works as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Centre. During her time she has seen countless young people’s lives change (student and volunteers) because of their time at EPIC. The Centre provides individuals with the skills and support they need to move confidently into the future. To Frances, Vital means essential or integral. She feels honoured to be recognized by the team at EPIC Youth Peer as playing an important role in the community and in the wonderful work of the program.
Growing up in Membertou First Nation, Gail Christmas has had the opportunity to remain in her community for her entire life; she only left for short period of time to further her education in Halifax. Committed to helping individuals living on Cape Breton Island who are facing issues with addictions and poverty, Gail is delighted to be able to use her skills and education to give back to the community that has done so much for her. Gail is the youngest woman who has ever been elected as a Membertou band councillor. Besides her infectious personality, Gail brings with her an understanding of what it is like to be faced with adversities. Gail credits her determination, patience and problem-solving skills to helping her overcome her own addictions. The support and assistance she received from her community has further motivated her to work hard for the people of Membertou in a way that is guided by respect and integrity. For Gail, Vital means finding passion in something that is important to you. She believes that when you find this, you will be able to create positive outcomes for not only yourself but others along the way.
A familiar face to the arts and culture scene on the Island, Lori Burke originally planned to stay in Cape Breton for a short time before heading to Australia. Growing up in the picturesque fishing village of Little Lorraine, she was surrounded by good humored and hardworking people. This may be why the moment she walked into the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, she was hooked. The vision she had for Australia quickly turned to a vision of life on Cape Breton Island and all the possibilities it holds. Lori works as the Executive Director for the Centre for Craft and Design. In this role, Lori is honoured to be able to carry on the vision and hard work of her friend and mentor, Carol Beaton. The role of the Centre for Craft and Design in the community is an important one. Being able to bring cultural activities to the community (iSpy and Lumiere) to supporting the growth of the creative industry on Cape Breton Island (Growing Creative Economy) all provide Lori with the opportunity to work with the incredible amount of talented artisans that call Cape Breton home. To Lori, Vital means having the opportunity to influence positive change and growth in our Cape Breton communities.
Vital Excellence – Employer Category
Jill Franklin is currently a resident of Iona. She moved back to her home community one year ago fulfilling a life long dream of having her kids grow up in Cape Breton. In 2004 she began working on a new found passion of building a chocolate company for Nova Scotia. Not knowing how to make chocolate or run a business, it took Jill many long days (and years) of making mistakes and building her ideas to get her to where she is today. In the past 18 months Jill and her husband Dan moved their family from Halifax, bought an inn, completely renovated it, opened an NSLC/convenience store, a pub and her chocolate shop - all on site. They have two children - ages 6 and 3.
Colaisde na Gàidhlig | The Gaelic College
Colaisde na Gàidhlig | The Gaelic College is first and foremost an educational non-profit institution, offering year-round programming in the culture, music, language, crafts, customs, and traditions of the immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland. With a seventy-eight year history (first founded in 1938) of education in the culture, today Colaisde na Gàidhlig is a bustling campus offering students multi-disciplinary and immersion learning opportunities. They truly believe in not just delivering the lesson, but all that surrounds it, striving to give students a true sense of Cape Breton, the people, the music, the dance, the language, the comradery, and all the fun.
The only institution of its kind in North America, students of all ages and skill levels visit the College every year to study under some of the finest instructors in Nova Scotia Gaelic culture. With an international reputation for its contribution to the preservation and promotion of Gaelic culture, the Gaelic College offers a truly one-of-a-kind learning experience.
Since its creation, the College has been a great employer of the St. Ann's area. A huge effort has been put forth in making the institution a year-round attraction, with increased use of facilities, new educational opportunities, and a year-round Craft Shop all in place. That effort has paid off in instilling more full-time employment for administrative staff, as well as an increase in demand for skilled individuals like Gaelic speakers, musicians, dancers, and artisans, many now under the age of 40. Through these means, more employees have moved into the area, and become self-sufficient in their cultural work.
After working away for nearly 8 years, founders Danielle and Mark Patterson returned home in the Fall of 2014 with strong determined goals of creating and launching a technology business here in Cape Breton. It had always been their dream to settle back to the island and develop a group of companies. Over the last year and a half they have been developing their technology business Docmaster, which has just launched in September of 2016. Docmaster is a secure, document storage and management tool for businesses in Canada. Today, Docmaster is in the onboarding process of bringing on new clients by the day and are excited to grow their client base in 2017. After meeting their technology partner James, they quickly launched their second business this past March of 2016 called: Devantec IT Solutions.
A commitment to sustainability, innovation, doing the right thing, equal opportunities and a strong desire to live and work here on Cape Breton Island are all commonly-held beliefs and core commitments that anchor every aspect of their business and team. This is just the beginning for this group who is quickly on the rise. Looking ahead, they're excited to expand their company and client base with the ever growing technology trends and development. They’re on a mission to help all clients who can benefit from the positive advantages of technology within their business and their home and that is something Danielle and Mark are very proud of.
In 2012, Wayne Miller opened Downtown Nutrition (DTN) with only a blender and some fruit. Today, Downtown Nutrition can be found in Downtown Sydney and is always bustling with activity. Locals come to relax and sip on hot beverages and cool smoothies. You can snack on healthy treats, grab a quick panini sandwich and soup, purchase the latest in supplements, and shop for the popular DTN apparel. Currently, there are 12 staff working at DTN all under the age of 40. You can’t help but feel energized when you enter the store and are welcomed by any of the smiling, helpful faces behind the counter. Wayne continues to entertain his social media followers with positive affirmations, letting everyone know that “good things are happening” here on the Island. With a new pizza shop on the horizon, DTN is committed to making Charlotte Street come alive, providing more young professionals with work experience and reminding us all that your dream of opening a business on Cape Breton Island can become a reality with hard work, determination and the right attitude. For Wayne, Vital means treating each day as a new opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. “If you can conceive it, you can achieve it.”
Sydney Credit Union
Sydney Credit Union is a progressive financial cooperative incorporated in 1937, committed to providing programs and services which enhance the economic and social well-being of its members and the community. Sydney Credit Union has a full time staff of 57, 27 of which are between the ages of 16 and 40. Sydney Credit Union believes strongly in its employees providing opportunity for professional development and career advancement. Sydney Credit Union has over $175 million in assets with additional off balance sheet assets under management of $82 million and serves some 14,000 members from 3 branches in Sydney, Sydney River and Whitney Pier.
Vital Excellence – Employee Category
Working as the Tourism and Development Officer for the Municipality of the County of Inverness, Amey Beaton has the opportunity to showcase the endless beauty of Cape Breton Island to those near and far. Born and raised in West Mabou, Inverness County, Amey still admires the famous beaches, unforgettable scenery and the joys of the weekly square dances. When it comes to Cape Breton, Amey finds the people, places and values she cherishes most are all packaged on one beautiful island. Through her work, Amey has the pleasure of being able to support individuals and community groups in their efforts to deliver a unique experience that is truly authentic and reflective of the many wonderful cultures on the Western coast of Cape Breton Island. She feels lucky that she can help promote her own personal experiences that she has been fortunate to enjoy to others. To Amey, Vital is realizing that she has an important role to play in Cape Breton’s future. She believes that it is Vital that we embrace and be proud of who we are and what we have to offer, and take every opportunity to talk about it. It is Vital to get out, give back and learn as much as you can from those who have helped shape our communities and our Island.
Leaving Cape Breton at 9 and returning at 30, Rory Andrews lived in Georgia and Beijing, however he always felt a strong connection to his Cape Breton roots eventually calling him home. A lover of animals and costumes, Rory can often be found on the stage at the Highland Arts Theatre taking part in the latest production. This is done in the spare time he has when not working for the three private companies in which he is currently employed. Rory found success not during his time living abroad, but rather when he moved back to the Island. His life has never been better, he is paid to write, which is one of his many passions. Through his writing, Rory is determined to let others know that Cape Breton is a great place with numerous positive things happening. Rory is described by co-workers as, “a prodigious talent with a seemingly endless supply of insights and ideas.” With energy and enthusiasm, Rory volunteers with community development activities and gaming events while continuing to make the days of his co-workers a little more entertaining and exciting. For Rory, receiving the Vital Award is added confirmation that moving back to Cape Breton is the best decision he could have made. He always believed that he had things to offer the world, but was never in a place that recognized that or gave him the opportunity to do just so.
Originally from Coxheath, Kathleen attended RHS and following gradtion from highschool, Kathleen went to Cape Breton Univesity. Presently she works as the Coordinator for New Dawn’s Meals on Wheels Program (MOW). During her time at CBU, she had the opportunity to live overseas. Like many of us, she longed for the big city life but as she grew older she began to appreciate the lifestyle the Cape Breton has to offer. Friendly, familiar faces, a slower pace, beautiful endless summers on the Mira, Bras d’Or and in the highlands, lesiure activities like hiking and sports, a sense of community, a sense of belonging and an ever-increasing sense of Caper pride is how Kathleen describes her love for the Island. Cape Breton is faced with an aging population, this is why there is such a need for programs like MOW. There are a number of people in the Sydney and surrouding area who rely of MOW for nutrition, wheather it be a person who is recovering from surgery or illness, or a senior who is living at home and finding it diffcult to cook on their own. Kathleen believes that the true “heros” of the program are the volunteers she is lucky to work with. To Kathleen, Vital means someone who is not afraid to put themselves out there and interact. From this, people are able to get to know there community and make good things happen. These people are the foundations of the new Cape Breton, by living here and maximizing their potential, they are able to use that to make Cape Breton a better, more diverse and more inclusive place to live.
In her role as Learning and Media Specialist with the Highland Village, Katherine MacLeod has the opportunity promote the Gaelic language and culture daily to help ensure it will not be lost for future generations. Growing up in a home overlooking the beautiful Barra Strait, Katherine later attended St. FX for a Bachelor of Arts in History and Celtic Studies, followed by an Advanced Diploma in Museum Studies from Algonquin College in Ottawa. When the opportunity came to complete an internship at the Highland Village in Iona, Katherine jumped at the chance to return home and work using her newly gained education. The internship turned into a six-month contract. That was over eight years ago and the Highland Village is still fortunate enough to have her on staff. Although she just planned to move home to complete the original internship, the longer she was home, and the more she watched her friends move away, she began to realize just how lucky she was to be able to stay and work full-time in Cape Breton. Living and working in Cape Breton has provided Katherine with the opportunity to connect with her community and Island on so many levels. She is delighted to be able to give back to the beautiful place that helped her become the person she is today. Katherine believes that as youth we have a Vital role to play by helping to create and foster a growing economy in Cape Breton. She hopes that future generations will not have to question moving away for work, because this will be a place for opportunity.
Christa Carey-MacDonald has been with Protocase since the very beginning. In fact, she was the first employee they hired back in 2002 upon graduation from Cape Breton University. At Protocase, she manages 10 employees in the company’s Engineering and Design Services Group. Her can-do attitude, combined with her knowledge and expertise are just some of the characteristics that have made her vital to the success of Protocase, which now employs more than 135 people. Growing up in Big Bras d’Or, Christa began working in the area while attending university. Family and her love of being near the water lead Christa to continue her professional career here, in Cape Breton, after graduating. Being a key player in a rapidly growing company keeps Christa busy. At Protocase, each day brings a new challenge and the opportunity for growth. Every year the company continues to expand their offerings. Christa looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of Protocase in the years to come. When she thinks of Vital, Christa thinks of everyone. During her time at Protocase, she has come to realize that everyone in an organization plays a big part in its success. With her attitude that no position is any more significant than the other, it is evident why she continues to be such an important part of Cape Breton Island.