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Ceremony inducts three Islanders into Order of P.E.I.

Islanders Najmul Chisti, left, Jeannette Arsenault and Leo Broderick were inducted into the Order of P.E.I. at a ceremony held at Government House on Sept. 25, 2019.
Islanders Najmul Chisti, left, Jeannette Arsenault and Leo Broderick were inducted into the Order of P.E.I. at a ceremony held at Government House on Sept. 25, 2019. - Jim Day

Long-time activist Leo Broderick often gets up on a soap box, but never tries to put himself on a pedestal.

Mary Cowper-Smith described Broderick as “always humble and self-effacing’’ in singing the praises of the man who joins Jeannette Arsenault and Najmul Chisti as the latest inductees into the Order of Prince Edward Island.

Cowper-Smith trumpets the 74-year-old Broderick as a man outspoken and well-informed on social justice and environmental concerns but one also respectful of the opinions of others.

She said the recognition bestowed Wednesday at Government House in Charlottetown honours Broderick’s many years of contribution to society.

Broderick, a former teacher, told The Guardian he was “shocked’’ when he first learned he was selected this year as a member of the Order of P.E.I., which puts his name on a list that includes pioneer doctors, renowned entrepreneurs and heralded former political leaders.

“It is a recognition of the kind of work that not only I do but dozens and dozens and dozens – hundreds of Islanders – do to bring about change,’’ he said.

“So, in many ways I see it as a thank you and I was pleased to be able to accept.’’

Being a passionate activist has often been a thankless job for Broderick, who is no stranger to criticism and has even been pepper sprayed in five different continents.
Still, he feels driven to, as Cowper-Smith notes, speak “truth to power.’’

“So, you mobilize, you organize, agitate and eventually enough people come on board (so) you can bring about change,’’ said Broderick, who added he sees no end in sight to his activism.

Premier Dennis King lauded Broderick, Arsenault and Chisti for working to improve the lives of Islanders.

“You are shining examples of the very best of Prince Edward Island,’’ said King.

The Order of P.E.I., which was first conferred in 1996, recognizes Islanders for displaying individual excellence or outstanding leadership in their community and in their chosen occupation or profession.

Catherine Callbeck, a retired senator, former premier and 2017 inductee into the Order of P.E.I., told the guests assembled at Fanningbank that she nominated Arsenault for her success as a driven and determined entrepreneur who has played a major role in supporting the tourism industry in the province.

Callbeck noted Arsenault, a proud Acadian who was born in Abram-Village, founded Cavendish Figurines in 1989. Arsenault is still the manager of the business, now called Shop and Play and the largest gift shop in Atlantic Canada.

In 2002, Arsenault was the first Islander to be named one of Canada’s most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network.

Dolores Angela Gaudin highlighted the many accomplishments that helped earn Chisti the prestigious induction this year along with Arsenault and Broderick.

Gaudin says the retired research scientist “contributed much’’ to the advancement of the successful and innovative Diagnostic Chemicals BioVectra.

Chisti was instrumental in building the first mosque in Charlottetown and worked tireless with his wife Farida to help refugees settle in Prince Edward Island.

He has also been a driving force in table tennis in the province as coach, referee, administrator and accredited official.

He is a 2012 recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and received the President’s Award from Sport P.E.I. for outstanding achievement and promotion of sport among youth.

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