© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
The Order of Prince Edward Island was presented in Fanningbank Monday night. From left are Premier Robert Ghiz; Dr. Joyce Bongile Madigane, Bideford; Vera Elizabeth Dewar, Stratford; Alex B. Campbell, Stanley Bridge and Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis.
Calling it a celebration of the richness of P.E.I., Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis presented three people Monday with the highest honour a Islander can receive from the province.
Former premier Alex Campbell, nurse educator Vera Dewer and Doctor Joyce Madigane all received the P.E.I. Medal of Merit during a ceremony at Government House in Charlottetown. The award is presented annually through a process of nomination and consideration by an advisory council.
"Every year at this time we celebrate the best of P.E.I.," said Lewis in his opening remarks.
He said the recipients "live their lives beyond themselves," and he thanked them for their extraordinary service.
Lewis called on everyone to mark 2014 with action to promote peace and community on the Island, adding that the medal-of-merit recipients are guiding lights in that regard.
"For the people of P.E.I., Alex Campbell’s period in office as our longest serving premier, from 1966 to 1978, was both edifying and uplifting," said Wade MacLauchlan in reading the introduction for Campbell.
"Premier Campbell led during a time of epochal institution building, social reform and economic development and growth," said MacLauchlan.
"To offer one high-level measure of what was achieved, the P.E.I. economy, including inflation, grew more than four-fold in thirteen years," he said. "PEI had the third fastest growing economy in Canada during the 1970s, after Alberta and BC.
"In education, almost 300 one-room schools were closed between 1967 and 1972, and more than 400 school districts were transformed into five," said MacLauchlan. "UPEI and Holland College were created. In housing, there were 12,000 new and substantially improved units built in the space of nine years, equivalent to one-third of the total PEI housing supply. For many families throughout PEI, it was the first time to have a basement or indoor plumbing."
Campbell also devoted much attention on his family and on protecting the environment before it was popular to do so, said MacLauchlan.
After provincial politics Campbell served for 16 years as a Justice of PEI’s Supreme Court.
Dewar receives the honour for her some 50 years in nursing education, lobbying for and founding the P.E.I. School of Nursing, then the nursing program and faculty at University of Prince Edward Island and even to the establishment of a Masters of Nursing program at UPEI.
She contributed financially towards a state-of-the-art nurse training lab at UPEI and created a nursing scholarship.
"It has been said that it was Miss Dewer's wisdom and tenacity to advance nursing education that will be her legacy to the profession," said Florence Bell in reading the introduction for Dewer.
She also maintained a passion for the Island’s Scottish roots. Her genealogical work culminated in the book Perthshire to Three Rivers, listing the names of over 14,000 descendants of the Brudenell area.
Dr. Madigane was honoured for her commitment to rural medicine in the greater Tyne Valley area, especially to the community of Lennox Island.
"We got so much more than an excellent doctor when she and her family decided to stay with us," said Thelma Phillips in reading the introduction. "We got a friend, a community supporter, and fierce advocate for rural healthcare.
"Lennox Island First Nation got an elder and sister, a mother and grandmother," said Phillips.
Madigane came to P.E.I., by way of Britain, in 1974 from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) being the first black female doctor from that country, said Phillips. She has helped families with education and supported resistance and freedom movements in Africa ever since.
"She has risked her own personal safety to help others," said Phillips. "Through her guidance and example, Dr. Madigane has taught us to speak up for what we believe in, to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others, to treasure the freedoms and peace that we too often take for granted in Canada.
"She has been the quintessential country doctor, sacrificing her personal life for the well-being of her patients," said Phillips.
"So although she was born in another land, Dr. Madigane is truly a daughter of Prince Edward Island, firmly rooted in our rich red soil, a great Islander of whom we in the Tyne Valley area are so very proud."
P.E.I. is a better place for each of the three recipients, said Premier Robert Ghiz in his remarks.
"As Islanders, we are all proud of our tradition of selfless community service," said Ghiz.