Eminent Canadians Walter Borden and Dr. Wanda Bernard are among this year’s Order of Nova Scotia recipients.
An internationally acclaimed poet, playwright and actor, Borden’s one-man show – Tightrope Time – is an autobiographical examination of the politics of being Black, gay, rural-raised but city-sophisticated, a community activist and a privacy-loving intellectual.
It’s considered a collective history of the development of African Nova Scotia in response to the slave trade, racism, class exploitation, impoverishment, illiteracy and homophobia.
“When Walter educates, he performs,” said Dr. George Elliott Clarke, who was inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia eight years ago. “When he performs, he entertains and he educates.”
At the height of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, Borden helped launch Kwaacha House, an interracial teen-oriented, drop-in and social education centre that served to inspire young Nova Scotians to fight for equality of citizenship and opportunity.
Borden and Dr. Bernard are members of the Order of Canada.
Bernard’s research with Black men and the violence of racism, particularly in the criminal justice system, has had significant impact on academic work and agency and community-based practice. She has made major academic and professional contributions to the field of Black masculinity, the investigation of Black women’s health and well-being and an Africentric understanding of the strengths of Black families, including Black men’s experience of mothering.
A past Director of the School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, she is highly regarded for addressing racial and cultural diversity in social work education and in the community.
Over the years, Bernard has generously shared her expertise and knowledge of family and social development with local, provincial, national and international organizations.
She is a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers, an organization that has empowered the community at large to combat racism, sexism and violence throughout all levels of society.
Bernard’s long and distinguished career has always been focused on how to create positive change. She is a dedicated volunteer in her church and her community and was previously involved with the Black United Front, The National Black Coalition and numerous projects within the African Nova Scotian community. Her passion for social justice has led to her induction into the W.P. Oliver Wall of Fame at the Black Cultural Centre and she is also a recipient of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Borden and Bernard will be honoured at an investiture ceremony at Halifax’s Province House on December 3. The other recipients are Dr. Stanley Kutcher, Dr. Richard Goldbloom and Ruth Holmes Whitehead.
“Through their work, these Nova Scotians have made invaluable contributions to our communities and our province,” said the province’s premier, Stephen McNeil. “Their accomplishments and bodies of work have made Nova Scotia a better place to live.”
Previous inductees include former Lieutenant Governor Mayanne Francis and the late Carrie Best, who founded The Clarion – the first Black-owned and published Nova Scotia newspaper – and started a popular radio show, “The Quiet Corner”, that aired for 12 years until 1964. She was also a columnist for The Pictou Advocate and a role model for generations of Black women.