VITAL EXCELLENCE - L'nuk EXCELLENCE
Meet Armand Paul, the 2023 Vital L'nuk Excellence Award. Having served with Legal Aid and Breton Law Group, and working with KMKNO - (Kwilmu'kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiation Office) he embarked on an inspiring journey by establishing Unama'ki Law in Membertou.
Armand's commitment to community service is evident in his legal practice, extending beyond the courtroom to foster growth and empowerment. As a Mi'kmaq lawyer and business owner, he sets a powerful example for youth, demonstrating the potential for success and leadership within the Mi'kmaq community.
Unama'ki Law, situated in Membertou, symbolizes not only professional accomplishment but also a dedication to community well-being. Armand's holistic approach, blending legal expertise with entrepreneurial spirit, renders him a deserving recipient of the 2023 Vital L'nuk Excellence Award.
Meet Kalolin Sylvester, 2023 Vital L'nuk Excellence Award Winner, a dedicated advocate and leader committed to community building and service at Eltuek Arts Centre. As the Kisituek Project Coordinator, Kalolin's passion for her community and culture shines through in her daily interactions.
Working tirelessly to uplift the Mi'kmaq community, Kalolin advocates for language, land-based activities, and traditional Mi'kmaq ceremony. As a L'nu e'pit from Membertou, Unama'ki, she is a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and granddaughter, embodying the essence of community and culture.
Kalolin's role at Eltuek Arts Centre involves coordinating the Kisituek Gallery, recognizing the contributions of Mi'kmaw artists. Collaborating with the Elders Advisory Committee, she ensures a vibrant array of programming and events that celebrate L'nuk art, culture, and language.
Congratulations to Kalolin, a truly deserving recipient of the Vital L'nuk Excellence Award.
Vital Excellence - Newcomer Excellence
Meet Ankit Wadhwa, 2023 Vital Newcomer Excellence Award Winner, making an indelible impact in CBRM in less than two years. An MBA student at CBU, Ankit is a community catalyst, organizing events that bridge cultures and promote inclusivity.
Founder of Cape Breton Influencers, Ankit is not just a student but a dynamic entrepreneur fostering community spirit. He works at the World Tourism Institute, runs the Island Bhangra Team team, volunteers weekly at YMCA to teach Bhangra Workout, and serves on the Board of New Dawn Enterprise.
Ankit's commitment to diversity is evident through events like Dandiya night, India's Independence Day, and the Diwali Gala, which raised substantial funds for international students. A dedicated volunteer, he actively engages in various local events and causes, such as, Makin Waves, RibFest, and Coal Dust Days, showcasing his multifaceted contributions.
Congratulations to Ankit, a true embodiment of the Vital Newcomer Excellence Award!
Guntas & Parteek (Gunny) Brar
Meet Guntas and Parteek (Gunny) Brar, 2023 Vital Newcomer Excellence Award Winners. As co-owners of Cape Breton Watersports and Juice in a Box on the Sydney Waterfront, this dynamic duo exemplifies the true spirit of community engagement and impactful contributions to Unama’ki Cape Breton.
Beyond their entrepreneurial success, Guntas and Gunny have demonstrated exceptional dedication to community well-being. In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, their selflessness came to the forefront. Mobilizing a team of volunteers, they orchestrated the delivery of over 200 cups of coffee, donuts, and timbits to workers engaged in powerline and tree restoration. Additionally, they provided 1,000 meals to those affected by power outages, showcasing their commitment to community support during challenging times.
Guntas and Gunny also stand out as advocates for international students, actively participating in community volunteerism to uplift and support this crucial demographic. Their commitment to service, immediate responses during crises, and continuous support for international students reflect their outstanding leadership and embody the values celebrated by the Vital Newcomer Excellence Award.
Congratulations to Guntas and Gunny for their remarkable contributions, leaving an indelible mark on Unama’ki Cape Breton!
Tam Campbell & Julia MacMillan
Meet Tam Campbell and Julia MacMillan, 2023 Vital Newcomer Excellence Award Winners, dynamic individuals who moved to Cape Breton during the pandemic with a vision to make a difference. In a short period, they transformed an abandoned lot on Commercial St in Glace Bay into an entertainment hub/beer garden, creating a warm and safe space to showcase the area's talented musicians and offer an inviting location to relax.
But their journey didn't stop there. Tam and Julia took on the challenge of renovating an adjacent derelict building, turning it into one of Cape Breton's premier dining locations, The Brixton. This new business not only revitalized Glace Bay but also provided an exceptional dining experience for patrons and entertainers of the Savoy.
Their vision for a vibrant community is fast becoming a reality, sparking a resurgence in Glace Bay. Tam, Julia, and The Brixton are not just newcomers; they are catalysts for positive change, creating a ripple effect that goes beyond their establishment.
Congratulations to Tam and Julia for their outstanding contributions and impact on the Cape Breton community.
VITAL EXCELLENCE - Employer EXCELLENCE
Meet AB Mechanical, 2023 Vital Employer Excellence Award Winner. As an employee-owned mechanical contracting company, AB Mechanical has been at the forefront of crucial infrastructure projects across Cape Breton. From Lingan Power Plant to Point Aconi and Point Tupper Generating Stations, the Coast Guard College, CBRH Redevelopment, NSCC Waterfront Campus, and numerous schools and commercial spaces, AB Mechanical has played a pivotal role in shaping the island's landscape.
Specializing in plumbing, pipefitting, welding, and sheet metal trades, AB Mechanical is a proud participant in the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Program. They work closely with building trade unions, ensuring apprentices receive comprehensive training and contribute meaningfully to projects. At the core of AB Mechanical's philosophy is the belief that their workforce is their most valuable asset. President Chris Brace consistently emphasizes the importance of appreciating and valuing every team member.
AB Mechanical doesn't just talk the talk; they walk the walk by advocating for their employees and recognizing and rewarding excellence. Chris Brace consistently underscores the significance of creating a positive and appreciative work environment. AB Mechanical stands as a shining example of how a company should treat its workforce, and the pride of their employees in being associated with such an outstanding company speaks volumes. Congratulations to AB Mechanical for this well-deserved recognition!
Meet Danielle Johnston and Danielle Patterson, 2023 Vital Employer Excellence Award Winners. As leaders of Anchored Ideas and Anchored Recruiting & HR Solutions, they've fostered workplaces that go beyond traditional roles.
Founded in 2017, Anchored Ideas is a full-service marketing agency known for creating a supportive environment for their team, all under the age of 40. In 2022, they launched Anchored Recruiting & HR Solutions, addressing recruitment challenges with a comprehensive approach.
Their commitment to work-life balance is evident through programs like paid volunteer time and personalized training, holiday shopping days, appreciation events, and anniversary celebrations.
The recent acquisition of City Print + in 2024 showcases their dedication to strategic growth.
Congratulations to Danielle and Danielle for their exceptional leadership, creating workplaces that prioritize the happiness and professional development of their team members.
BGC Cape Breton
Introducing BGC Cape Breton, 2023 Vital Employee Excellence Award Winner. As a cornerstone of the community, BGC Cape Breton, under the leadership of Executive Director Chester Borden, has made a lasting impact on thousands of children and young adults.
With a commitment to fostering growth and providing opportunities, BGC Cape Breton serves as the launching pad for many young professionals, offering coaching, networking, and ongoing mentorship. Chester's leadership has created a positive environment that extends beyond the organization, recognized by "Club Kids" and numerous employees who have been part of the BGC team over the years.
This recognition not only celebrates BGC Cape Breton but also acknowledges Chester's dedication to shaping the lives of young individuals and making a positive impact within the Cape Breton community. Congratulations to BGC Cape Breton!
VITAL EXCELLENCE - Employee EXCELLENCE
Melissa Vickers - Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce
Meet Melissa Vickers, 2023 Vital Employee Excellence Award Winner! Celebrating her six-year anniversary with the Chamber, Melissa is the backbone of the organization, holding invaluable institutional knowledge. Having navigated through three CEOs and worked tirelessly during transitional periods, she not only ensured the Chamber's survival but facilitated its thriving growth.
As the Director of Operations, a promotion she earned last year, Melissa has stepped into her power with newfound confidence. In the last year and a half, she has actively challenged herself, showcasing her love for her job and the Cape Breton business community. Known for her stunning attention to detail, Melissa orchestrates exceptional events that unite businesses and the community.
Recognized as the New Mount Public Relations Co-Op Employer of the Year in 2021, Melissa's dedication extends to mentoring students, providing them with fulfilling work experiences. She brings a full focus and drive to her work, making each day count to its fullest potential. A true rockstar, Melissa, is inspired by her two amazing little boys. This award is a well-deserved recognition for her exceptional contributions to the team and the community at large. Congratulations, Melissa!
Nicole MacDonald - YMCA CAPe Breton
Meet Nicole MacDonald, 2023 Vital Employee Excellence Award Winner! Joining the YMCA in 2022 as a Project Manager, Nicole brought over a decade of Early Childhood Educator experience from Ontario, playing a pivotal role in expanding childcare spaces across Cape Breton and Guysborough.
Beyond her role, Nicole became a key member of the YMCA collective, offering expertise in health and safety, ECE recruitment, and curriculum development. In 2022, she became a “Playing to Learn Champion,” providing ECE training across Nova Scotia.
In 2023, Nicole earned a promotion to Senior Manager of the YMCA's Childcare Division in Cape Breton, overseeing early learning centers and after-school programs. She is an integral part of the senior leadership team, guiding the organization's strategic direction.
Nicole's contributions extend to various committees, including the Joint Occupational Health and Safety committee, where she enhances workplace safety. She serves as the YMCA’s Child Safeguarding Lead, forming a committee to oversee child safeguarding policies and practices.
At 36, Nicole leads the transformation of young lives, ensuring the highest quality and safest care. Her influence has grown, impacting over 275 families and set to expand to over 400. Congratulations Nicole on this well-deserved recognition!
Shane MacSween - New Dawn Enterprises
Meet Shane, the 2023 Vital Employee Excellence Award Winner, currently serving as Human Resources Manager for New Dawn Enterprises. In his 2 years with the organization, Shane has made a remarkable impact, extending from fostering a positive organizational culture to active community involvement.
Beyond his HR role, Shane assists various departments, volunteers with the Good Food Bus and Meals on Wheels. and ensures every employee feels valued. His versatility is evident as he supports new supervisors, actively participates in hiring processes, and specifically navigates those with immigration components. Shane also serves as a volunteer board member for Cairdeil Place Society and Pathways To Employment
Shane's adaptability, dedication, and growth align seamlessly with New Dawn’s evolving HR needs, serving an organization with over one hundred employees. He's not just an exceptional HR professional but also a friend, community volunteer, and advocate.
Congratulations to Shane, a well-deserved recipient of the Vital Employee Excellence Award.
VITAL EXCELLENCE - Entrepreneur EXCELLENCE
Meet Basil Doucet, 2023 Vital Entrepreneur Excellence Award Winner, whose transformative ventures—L’abri, Marguerite, and Archie and Isidore Hotel—have become the catalysts for the rejuvenation of Cheticamp. Basil's exceptional work ethic and steadfast commitment to his staff have not only established him as an exemplary employer but also positioned him as a trusted business leader and a crucial economic player in the community.
Basil's leadership style goes beyond conventional norms, creating a work environment that is not only a pleasure to be a part of but also a testament to his dedication to his employees' well-being. His businesses have brought a breath of fresh air to Cheticamp, aligning with modern values and fostering a culture of inclusive workplace.
What sets Basil apart is not just his entrepreneurial prowess but his genuine commitment to creating unprecedented work opportunities for LGBT+ individuals in Cheticamp. Having lived in Toronto for several years, Basil returned to Cape Breton with a dream—to infuse new life into older businesses by incorporating a fresh perspective and contemporary values.
Congratulations, Basil, on this well-deserved recognition for your outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship, community revitalization, and fostering a work culture that values diversity and inclusivity.
Meet Hazel Sparling, 2023 Vital Entrepreneur Excellence Award Winner. With 21 years of dance experience, Hazel is a dancer, choreographer, and proud owner of Painted Dance Collective.
Known for her passionate leadership and diverse training, Hazel holds two Bachelor degrees from Cape Breton University. In 2019, Hazel founded Painted Dance Collective, the first recreational dance studio in Cape Breton. Committed to challenging outdated dance standards, Painted fosters inclusivity, offering high-level training and creative development for the next generation. The studio's impact includes numerous community performances and increased interest in dance among young Cape Breton artists.
Beyond teaching, Hazel continues her journey as a dancer and choreographer. Last year, she achieved success with ZIMMERDANS in Halifax, NS, contributing to a sold-out show. Hazel believes in building her skillset to benefit her community, aiming to put Cape Breton on the map in the dance world.
Outside dance, Hazel serves as a Queer Educator with the CB Youth Project and volunteers as a peer mentor with Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. Passionate about community building and youth support, Hazel, at just 29, is rewriting the narrative of dance in Cape Breton. Congratulations, Hazel!
Meet Meghan Finney, 2023 Vital Entrepreneur Excellence Award Winner, a visionary force shaping the local economy with innovation and a commitment to community values. As the driving force behind "LaQuaintrelle," Meghan transformed a modest store into a bustling hub on North Sydney's main street, offering a unique collection of women's clothing, accessories, and handmade, fair-trade items.
Meghan's entrepreneurial journey epitomizes effective leadership, combining business acumen with a deep commitment to ethical practices and community engagement. As the founder of LaQuaintrelle, Meghan's dedication to fostering a business that aligns with community values and drives economic growth speaks volumes.
As a Partner in Escape Outdoors, Meghan further showcases her commitment to the community by offering high-quality outdoor clothing, footwear, and gear. Her innovative mindset and collaborative spirit shine not only in commerce but also in her role as part of the Yellow Dog Studios collective.
Meghan Finney's entrepreneurial journey embodies the ethos of effective leadership, making her an ideal recipient of the Vital Entrepreneur Award. Congratulations, Meghan!
VITAL EXCELLENCE - Individual EXCELLENCE
Meet Chloe MacDonald, 2023 Vital Excellence Award Winner. Originally from Mahone Bay, Chloe's passion for volunteering and helping others was established long before she came to Cape Breton; co-founding a non-profit math tutoring program, coaching basketball and working with children at the IWK and Special Olympics. This passion followed her on her journey to Cape Breton, leading her to become a dedicated advocate for her new community. With a heart filled with care and compassion, Chloe is committed to making her community a better place.
After becoming a Designated Professional with the Rick Hansen Foundation, Chloe founded Accessibuild, a consultation service that provides accessibility assessment, consultation, and education in all of the areas in which we live, work, learn, play, and heal. She supports businesses and community organizations in gaining a deeper understanding of the benefits of having universally designed environments.
Chloe's dedication to her community extends beyond Accessibuild to her role as board member for the Sydney River Recreation Society, working to ensure truly meaningfully inclusive play experiences for all individuals. She is a key committee member for Teal to Heal and co-Event Director with motionball, which highlight her commitment to fundraising for programs and opportunities on the island. These two events collectively raised a remarkable quarter of a million dollars in less than a month.
All of this happens outside of Chloe’s regular schedule where she works full time at the Regional Hospital as a Recreational Therapist in Mental Health and Addictions.
Chloe's impact is undeniable, making her a gem in our community. With unwavering dedication, she is only just beginning her journey, and the Vital Excellence Award is a well-deserved recognition of her outstanding contributions. Congratulations, Chloe!
Meet Ethan Merlin, 2023 Vital Excellence Award Winner, a dedicated community minded individual excelling in athletics and volunteerism. From Dalhousie University to now pursuing a Bachelor of Education at Cape Breton University, Ethan's journey is marked by not only academic dedication but a profound commitment to giving back.
Ethan's impactful involvement with motionball stands out as a testament to his dedication to making a positive impact. Initially joining the Marathon of Sport Cape Breton in 2017, Ethan's enthusiasm led him to the organizing committee the following year. His passion for supporting the Special Olympics Canada Foundation didn't stop there; he became an Event Director and joined the National Leadership Council, providing guidance to motionballU chapters across the country. During his time at Dalhousie, Ethan contributed to starting the Dalhousie motionballU Chapter, which in 2023 was the second highest fundraising school in the country.
One of Ethan's notable contributions is creating Canada’s first-ever Mini motionball event, specifically for Special Olympics athletes under the age of 16. Hosted in Sydney, the event showcased Ethan's innovative spirit and commitment to inclusivity.
Beyond motionball, Ethan volunteers extensively within the local basketball community by providing individual & team sessions, coaching a basketball team at Malcolm Munroe Middle School, and provides guidance for youth boys at Coxheath Elementary. His multifaceted contributions, particularly in the realm of volunteerism, make him a true community leader and a deserving recipient of the Vital Excellence Award. Congratulations, Ethan!
Meet Paige Cox, 2023 Vital Excellence Award Winner, a beacon of resilience, passion, and selflessness. Despite facing educational setbacks, Paige is pursuing her third degree at CBU, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to personal growth and education.
What sets Paige apart is her selfless dedication to the North Sydney community. As a volunteer lead at The Seton Community Complex, she devotes all her free time to ensuring the well-being of at-risk children, going beyond providing essential necessities to create enriching activities.
Paige's leadership at The Seton Community Complex reflects her profound dedication to empowering youth. Beyond her community service, Paige extends her commitment as a board member for Dance Nova Scotia and as a director with the CBU Alumni Association Board of Directors, actively engaging with alumni to create opportunities for collaboration.
Recognizing Paige with the Vital Excellence Award honors her achievements and amplifies the positive impact she continues to make on the lives of those she serves. Congratulations, Paige!
Meet Peter MacInnis, 2023 Vital Excellence Award Winner, embodies creativity, community building, and generosity in Cape Breton. Returning to the island, he seamlessly intertwines farming, fishing, family, and storytelling to celebrate the cultural traditions of Cape Breton.
Through his web series "Cape Breton Chats," viewed over 200,000 times, Peter captures the nuanced connections in rural Cape Breton, portraying warmth, humor, and love for a unique way of life. His collaborative efforts extend to music and theatre, contributing to bands like Beech Hill and bringing historical tales to life on stage.
Despite working with iconic performers, Peter brings the same excitement to his role as a full-time music teacher, leaving an indelible impact on his students at Whycocomagh Education Centre and Bayview Education Centre.
Congratulations to Peter, a rare individual who effortlessly combines artistic excellence with genuine community engagement. His passion for Cape Breton's culture and commitment to sharing its stories make him an indispensable asset to the island's cultural tapestry. A deserving recipient of the Vital Excellence Award.
Meet Saralyn Gillan, 2023 Vital Excellence Award Winner, recognized nationally with the Kubota Community Hero Award and by the Canadian Hockey League. In just a few years in working in non-profit in CBRM, Saralyn has been a force for positive change, addressing issues like food insecurity, poverty, and housing.
With a background in nursing and having been on the front lines for Covid here in CBRM, Saralyn's compassion knows no bounds. Her dedication to connecting youth with the Children First Canada Youth Canadian Parliament Session showcases her commitment to advocacy.
A community advocate and educator, Saralyn's work has earned her media attention, including being named a Rock Solid Community Rockstar. Her influence extends to her family, inspiring her children to run W.E.B.S. Creative Closet, contributing to community welfare. Their most recent campaign filled 101 shoe boxes for the holidays 2023 for folks in the community.
Saralyn's impact goes beyond accolades; she embodies the essence of the Vital Excellence Award, making her a true hero and leader in CBRM. Congratulations, Saralyn!