BURLINGTON, NS - She believes volunteerism is “the heart blood of the communities” on the North Mountain that have been recognized with the Community Spirit Award.
In partnership with a number of organizations, Sheila Munro applied for the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Spirit Award on behalf of the North Mountain, which represents five independent communities near the Bay of Fundy.
It was obvious that community members were excited and proud as Lt.-Gov. Arthur L. LeBlanc visited the Burlington Community Hall on Oct. 19 to present the community representatives with an original piece of Nova Scotian crystal, etched with a representation of the North Mountain’s story.
The treasurer of the North Mountain News, a newsletter that serves the subject communities, Munro said Kings West MLA Leo Glavine kept telling them that there are exciting things happening in terms of the communities starting to work together. He suggested applying for the award, which recognizes exemplary civic and community spirit.
Munro asked the other North Mountain News team members what they thought of applying for the award and all quickly responded in favour. They include Penny Lowe of Morden; Karen Sanford of Black Rock-Canada Creek, Beth Caldwell of Harbourville and Marilyn Cameron representing the North Mountain United Tapestry, a cultural and heritage society that includes several area artists and artisans.
Munro said people on the North Mountain always seem to want to give of themselves to the benefit of the larger community.
“People seem to find their niche and if you ever come to any of the mountain events, you find that they’re very, very social,” Munro said. “If you go down to the Harbourville High Tide Festival, it’s just one big, happy family.”
She said that any time they plan a charitable benefit, whether it’s for a child with medical needs or a sit-down dinner to raise money for the post-secondary education bursaries offered by the Burlington Community Club, the volunteers and residents are there to support it. She said receiving recognition for this community spirit from the Lieutenant Governor is quite validating.
“There’s a very strong sense of helping each other,” Munro said.
Although being recognized isn’t the reason why so many community members give of themselves, Munro said the recognition from the Lieutenant Governor would likely further bolster the sense of pride and volunteerism in the North Mountain communities. In this regard, the award bodes well for the future.
She said that even if they hadn’t been recognized, just writing and preparing the application material was “an amazing community building activity.”
“Just the activity of doing that introspection helped people I think also see the value of community,” Munro said.
She said the partner communities have always been individual and did their own thing but this has been changing over time. The volunteers saw value in having a printed newsletter focusing on people, events and activities in the subject communities - one reason being a lack of internet connectivity on the North Mountain.
Thanks to a small grant through the Municipality of the County of Kings municipal economic development fund, the newsletter was launched. Munro said it was about building capacity: promoting the local economy and activities.
The first two communities to get onboard were Harbourville and Burlington and the North Mountain United Tapestry was also included. After a few issues, Black Rock-Canada Creek and Morden got involved. Adam Daniels collects submissions from the five community representatives and puts the newsletter together.
Prior to presenting the award, Lt.-Gov. LeBlanc said that what brings a community to life is the spirit of that community. He said that as the Queen’s representative in Nova Scotia, it was a pleasure to visit Burlington to thank the people of the North Mountain community.
LeBlanc said spirit is the combination of many factors, including volunteering, valuing and maintaining heritage, recognizing diversity, helping those less fortunate, service to your fellow citizen and many other factors.
“Spirit is not something that you can hold in your hand and try to quantify, yet it is very real,” LeBlanc said.
He said the people of the North Mountain have been “going over and above and beyond the norm in order to make this community a special place to live.” He commended the communities on the many improvement projects undertaken, including the work of the Harbourville Restoration Society.
“These activities create a common purpose and experience amongst the residents and the result is a synergy and community spirit that is often greater than what even could have been anticipated,” LeBlanc said.
He said that although not every community can win the award, he hopes all will “follow the tremendous example of the North Mountain community” and that winning communities will share ideas so that all will benefit. He also recognized that it even took a great volunteer effort to make the Oct. 19 celebration a success.
About the award
The Community Spirit Award was created by Her Honour, Mayann Francis, past Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, to raise awareness of and to celebrate what it means to be a community that makes Nova Scotia a better place to live, work and play. The award is administered by the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.
For more information on the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Spirit Award, visit http://communityspiritaward.ca.