2015 Annual Report – Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Provincial Council President
2015 Annual Report
Nova Scotia Provincial Council, which is set to welcome members at the 96th annual national convention in August 2016 in Halifax, held a number of planning meetings so as to ensure the event would be a memorable one for all and a celebration of members.
Representatives of the provincial council met with the minister of health and wellness to discuss health-related resolutions, such as the ones on e-cigarettes, drug recycling programs and waiting lists for seniors’ placement in nursing homes. Resolution NS.2015.01 Coverage for Psychologists under the Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance Program was discussed as well, which requested initial assessment, diagnosis and therapy for adolescents with psychological and emotional disorders. This resolution was generated as a result of former senator Michael Kirby’s presentation at the 2014 annual national convention in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Gratitude was expressed to the minister for the opportunity to discuss the resolutions in depth.
New annual reports forms, revamped in 2015, were well received, and it was noted they were easier to work with and less repetitious. PowerPoint presentations were provided in each diocese in anticipation of the release of the new forms in the fall.
The Aboriginal Leadership Development Program project was completed. A partnership forged with St. Francis Xavier University, the program empowered indigenous women to assume leadership roles and work on projects that enhanced their leadership and project management skills within their communities. In the summer, graduates of the class of 2012 connected with St. Francis Xavier University to share their leadership experiences since graduating. The outcome included the recognition of three themes for the projects―food network (community garden, cooking club and traditional recipes), grandmothers’ involvement (traditional and current roles) and physical health and activity. Four applications were received and three were accepted for the practicum. The total number of participants involved was 80, three of them being fathers who wanted to be involved in the process. The perspectives of each of the project recipients were shared with the provincial council. All were pleased with the outcome of their projects and, for some, it was the only chance to socialize with other women in their community. St. Francis Xavier University reported the result was increased self-confidence and an eagerness to assume leadership roles within communities in the future. It also resulted in one community creating a new policy ensuring equitable access to resources and activities, and committing to take a leadership role in raising awareness and understanding of gender equity among members of the community. More than 100 women learned invaluable information about the need for food security, the value of sharing traditional information among themselves, the important role they play within their families and community, and the strength they gain through cooperation. The community garden component was intended to continue on an annual basis. Members contributed $8,367.55 toward these projects.
The provincial convention was hosted by St. Joseph Parish Council in Kentville in conjunction with its 90th anniversary. Life Member Rita-May Munro was in attendance and was recognized with a 60-year pin. National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization Margaret Ann Jacobs was the theme development speaker.
The provincial council continued to experience a decline in membership. To address this financial challenge, a notice of motion was distributed to parish councils to increase per capita fees by $2.00, with the instructed vote to be taken at 2016 provincial convention. Despite the reality of fewer councils through amalgamation or inactivation, diocesan and parish councils continued to work hard to sustain membership.
In both dioceses, parish councils connected with the call of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This was evident through the many initiatives planned to assist the dying, those in need, and the abandoned, marginalized and isolated. Many service organizations in the province were the benefactors of contributions by members.
The impending legislation regarding physician-assisted dying received much attention. Resolution 2015.04 Invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the case of Carter v. Canada was studied and members wrote letters to the federal government, colleges of physicians and surgeons (provincial and national) and local members of parliament, voicing concerns about the expected legislation. Councils identified that more education was needed on end-of-life issues and health care directives. Councils continued to work diligently to protect life by advocating for legislation that was life saving, not life ending.
Councils reported working to recruit and build capacity through leadership, faith development and member recognition. Despite the decline in membership, members continued to offer leadership development days, retreats and other initiatives to engage and educate members.
In both dioceses, members were actively engaged in refugee programs. Members attended planning sessions, contributed financially and provided support through prayer, faith and action. Councils raised funds to support refugee families in their efforts to settle in a new country and assisted families where necessary.
Members were tuned to the events of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Synod on the Family) and the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, both influenced by Pope Francis.
Sadly in 2015, two life members were lost—Marguerite Peters and Mary McLeod. Their influence and dedication in service to the League was invaluable and their presence was missed. The provincial council also missed the presence of 128 deceased members. The legacy of these members was recognized and remembered at gatherings.
It was interesting to note from one report that one council made a quilt depicting the Beatitudes. One beatitude was reflected upon at each meeting. Several councils reported initiating a Facebook page, Halifax-Yarmouth Diocesan Council created a website, and Antigonish Diocesan Council planned to create a website in 2016. Reports noted that websites and social media were effective communication tools. Members were also sensitive to the needs of those who did not have access to computers.
At the beginning of my tenure as provincial president, a vision was established by each standing committee chairperson and compiled into a working document. The document was reviewed in November and much was accomplished. Through the dedication and devotion of each provincial executive member, who in turn was supported by diocesan and parish council members, the vision and mission was an important aspect of League work, guided by the inspiration of the national theme, One Heart, One Voice, One Mission.