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Raksha Bhayana Speaks About Nova Scotia’s Day of Recognition for the Nonprofit Sector 


Good afternoon.

In 2020, Nova Scotia led the historic charge by proclaiming the first-ever Day of Recognition for the Nonprofit Sector in Canada.

Today, thanks to Premier Houston and the members of the Legislative Assembly we are celebrating the Second annual Day!

We are honouring the women and men whose spirit, resilience, and commitment to meaningful impact brings joy and hope in the lives of Nova Scotians.

Thank you, Premier, the scale of our celebration today speaks volumes, about the esteem you and your government have for the contributions of the Sector.

Thank you to our honoured guests who are with us in-person, Hon. Minister Barbara Adams, NDP leader Gary Burrill and MLAs Susan Leblanc and Claudia Chender and Suzy Hansen.

To the many valued corporates, nonprofit leaders, public sector employees and people from across Canada. This will be an afternoon to remember.

We are grateful for your presence. You are honouring not only the economic contribution of the Sector -2.5% of the GDP-1 Billion annually but the immense but as yet unquantified social contribution to the well being and quality of life of Nova Scotians.

Every person in the Nova Scotia benefits from the work of non-profits in one way or another, whether they realize it or not.

I was struck by how appropriate it is that we should gather here, at the beautiful new Lighthouse Arts Centre. Why? Because the goal of our foundation is to shine a light on an underappreciated sector.

Since 2007 we have been recognizing the staff of the Sector at public Award Ceremonies. In 2018 began advocating for Provincial Days of Recognition-and

have had success with two. We plan to move forward in the next while at the National level.

As a former direct service provider, I was asked recently about my dream

landscape for the non-profit sector in Canada.

What a great question! Do you know what I said?

Esteem. Recognition, Awareness of the value that the Sector provides.

That as a society we appreciate those who help people as much as those who sell

products and services.

I am pleased to speak here today. The next few minutes can’t begin to cover everything I’d like to say about what you do. So, I will focus on two things: your work to reduce the glaring inequalities in our society that the pandemic has laid bare, and on the remarkable innovations you have made to continue delivering your services during the last two years of the pandemic.

Some of you may be familiar with Oxfam International’s 2021 report – The Inequality Virus. It says that history: “will remember the pandemic as the first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time.” Canada as you well know has not been immune.

Who has worked tirelessly and successfully to address systemic inequality across the province?

The staff, volunteers, and leaders at Nova Scotia’s charitable, non-profit and impact organizations.

At a granular level you successfully address inequality-ensuring employment opportunities are available to the disabled and marginalized groups. You make social justice and respect for intersectionality alive and real for the perceived outsiders or outliers-be they victims and survivors of human trafficking, or people who were incarcerated.

You turn their challenges into a renewed purpose by addressing structural inequalities.

As you watch today’s awards, listen to the stories behind them. You will hear how you and your co-workers have helped people overcome insurmountable barriers.

You expand the definition of “what’s possible” by bringing segregated populations into the mainstream. Through your lens of inclusivity people are not longer them but part of us… differently abled, cultured, or gendered, with varied sexual identities there is no “them”: we’re all just “us.” Humans with similar needs.

The awards today also recognize your efforts during a frightening and uncertain time for all of us… the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch for stories of incredible ingenuity and leadership, of endless compassion and unimaginable dedication.

Some examples: Digital programming for all ages including parties’ tours of zoos and Disneyland, adopting orphan seniors, free moving and storage for victims of partner violence and their families, galvanizing kids to succeed through sports camps even rebounding all night long if that works.

The ingenuity is boundless. That is who you are. Thank you.

On behalf of the Bhayana Family Foundation, I am honoured to help recognize and award your extraordinary work. I wish I could be there in person to celebrate with you.

In closing I would like to thank my partners: Sara Napier CEO of United Way Halifax, Annika Voltan CEO of the Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia for your guidance and wisdom, and the Province of Nova Scotia for your support. Your partnership is deeply valued.

Thank you Portia Clark-you are an incredible MC!
To all the artists and performers today: you were a visual and auditory delight!

Thank you to our well-wishers across all sectors in Nova Scotia for your innumerable messages of support.

Congratulations again to all of you—and especially to the Award Recipients—there are not enough accolades to do justice to you….and your contributions.

Thank you again Honourable Minister Barbara Adams, and the Government of Nova Scotia for your appreciation of the Sector. Many of you may not know this, but Minister Adams has a deep understanding of the non-profit sector from her decades of work and volunteering, which she started as a twelve-year-old girl- working with kids with special needs.

I would like to close with a quote from an Executive Director from Nova Scotia:

“The award ceremony has had a huge impact on our organization and the staff who received awards……. for staff to be completely honoured and appreciated. it happens so seldom, the only thing they normally get is our thanks – but to have this recognition is extremely impactful and motivating for them, and our staff team.”

I hope to see you all again a year from now when we gather in 2023 for the 3rd Annual Day of Recognition.