Help each other succeed—McNeil

John DeMings
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Published on January 26, 2014

More than 120 people attended this year’s Burns Dinner in James Horsfall Memorial Hall at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre.

Published on January 26, 2014

Digby Area Board of Trade president Peter MacLellan, at the lectern, introduces the head table.

Published on January 26, 2014

Piper Stewart MacDonald provided pipe music, an obligatory part of a successful Burns Dinner.

Published on January 26, 2014

Piper Stewart MacDonald leads the procession of the haggis.

Published on January 26, 2014

The ceremony of the haggis included the delicacy being borne around the tables by Kevin Ellis, with Dr. Ron Matsusaki carrying a claymore.

Published on January 26, 2014

Transplanted Scot Thomas Morrison, now a Digby area resident, plunges a dagger into the haggis while reading Burns’ ‘Ode to a Haggis’.

Published on January 26, 2014

Karen Cleveland tries to restrain herself while listening to husband Mayor Ben Cleveland offer the ‘toast to the lassies’.

Published on January 26, 2014

A crowded dining room listens appreciatively to RCMP supt. Sylvie Bourassa-Muise offer a ‘toast to the laddies’.

Published on January 26, 2014

RCMP supt. Sylvie Bourassa-Muise toasts the laddies.

Premier delivers ‘Immortal Memory’ address at Burns Dinner at Cornwallis

Premier Stephen McNeil drew on his family history Saturday night to remind Nova Scotians of the need to support each other.

McNeil, who was guest speaker at the  Burns Dinner organized by the Digby Area Board of Trade, recalled as a child the support his family received following the death of his father.

“People used to help their neighbours when they were in need,” he said. “And when they succeeded, they celebrated those successes as their own and celebrated.

“People now see the success of others as their own loss.”

The dining room in the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre at Cornwallis was packed for the Burns Dinner, with many attracted by the premier’s first such public engagement in the area since his government’s election last fall.

McNeil, the MLA for Annapolis, looked across the crowd, which drew from across southwestern Nova Scotia and even Saint John, and emphasized his point of people—and communities—helping each other succeed.

He said Burns, Scotland’s national bard, would have been familiar with the value of helping others.

Communities must realize that what is good for Clare is also good for Bridgetown, and what’s good for Digby is good for the Valley, he said.

For examples, McNeil  turned to the successes of local businesses such as Acadian Seaplants at Cornwallis, and A.F. Theriault & Son at Meteghan River.  

He also praised the high standard of education found in Clare because of the work of Université Sainte Anne.

The Burns Dinner has been organized by a committee of the Digby Area Board of Trade since its trade mission to Scotland almost eight years ago.

Guest speakers over the years have included two former Nova Scotia premiers, John Buchanan and Rodney MacDonald, and McNeil noted he is the first sitting premier invited to deliver ‘the Immortal Memory’, an account of the life of Robbie Burns.

Held on the anniversary of Burns’ birthday on Jan. 25, 1759, the celebrations were originally started by some of his close friends a few years after his death. Burns Night is now celebrated across the world each year.

Burns’ life and works are commemorated with songs, recitals and tributes, and a hearty feast, including haggis.

As well, there are traditional toasts to the ‘lassies’ and ‘laddies’, delivered this year by Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland and RCMP Supt. Sylvie Bourassa-Muise of New Minas.

This year’s dinner also provided funding support to Digby Ground Search and Rescue.

Organizations: Cornwallis, Digby Area Board of Trade, MLA for Annapolis RCMP

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Scotland, Clare Saint John Bridgetown Meteghan River

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