Excellence in order

- December 18, 2014

This year's Order of Nova Scotia recipients. Dr. Goldbloom is second from left; Drs. Kutcher and Bernard are pictured second-from-right and right, respectively. (Government of Nova Scotia photo)
This year's Order of Nova Scotia recipients. Dr. Goldbloom is second from left; Drs. Kutcher and Bernard are pictured second-from-right and right, respectively. (Government of Nova Scotia photo)

If you’re looking for evidence of Dalhousie’s reach and impact within Nova Scotia, look no further than this year’s Order of Nova Scotia recipients.

Five individuals were recently inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia, the province’s highest honour. Among them were two current Dalhousie faculty members: Dr. Stan Kutcher, the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre; and Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, professor in the School of Social Work and incredibly well-respected scholar and social work practitioner.

Also among the inductees was Dr. Richard Goldbloom, former Dal chancellor and internationally known pediatrician.

“When I looked at who the other recipients were, I felt exceedingly humbled and very fortunate to be in that company,” says Dr. Kutcher. “The diversity of achievement is amazing, so I’m really thrilled just to have been considered.”

The Order of Nova Scotia was established in 2011 to recognize Nova Scotians for their tremendous contributions and achievements in their respective fields. Although it is individuals who receive formal recognition, this year’s recipients from Dal see it as an accomplishment for their areas of study and their colleagues.

Dr. Bernard, who was nominated for the honour by the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers, sees it as a step in the right direction for human rights research.

“In a way, having Nova Scotia award me the Order medal is like an affirmation of the work, not so much an affirmation of me,” she says. “It’s the recognition that this work is important, that this work has value, that this work is making a contribution, and that this work is making a difference, hopefully, in somebody’s life.”

Celebrating accomplished careers

Dr. Bernard has dedicated nearly four decades to the field of social work. She received a BA from Mount Saint Vincent University, attended Dalhousie for her Master’s Degree in Social Work and completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield in England, engaging in participatory research with men of African descent across two continents which she credits for launching her interest in issues of race and oppression. After 14 years as a social work practitioner, she left practice to teach and has spent to 25 years in academia, also completing two five-year terms as director of the School of Social Work at Dal. In addition to her many past accomplishments, she was recently appointed as the Chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

For Dr. Kutcher, his career was set in motion by a change of course. After completing undergraduate and master’s degrees in History at McMaster University, he became interested instead in psychiatry. From there, he completed his MD at McMaster University Medical School, was a resident in Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and did postdoctoral research in brain metabolism in Edinburgh. He was also part of the development of a specialized adolescent psychiatric care unit in Toronto that built the first transitional program in the 80s and was later integrated into schools and community organizations to increase the quality of care for young people. He is now engaged in a mental health literacy approach that focuses on four key areas of understanding: obtaining and maintaining good mental health, identifying and treating mental disorders, decreasing stigma, and improving health seeking efficacy.

“Over the last couple of decades, there has been an increasing realization of the importance of mental health and the importance of identifying, diagnosing and effectively treating mental disorders,” he says. “I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to play a really small part in that realization and development.”

In addition to Drs. Kutcher and Bernard, Chancellor Emeritus Goldbloom was also inducted into the Order. Dr. Goldbloom was recruited in 1967 from McGill University to come to the Halifax Children’s Hospital and has since then pioneered the expansion and development of the IWK Health Centre into one of the leading hospitals of its kind in Canada, attracted many experts to practice at the hospital and began the Read to Me! program which combats low literacy rates in Nova Scotia.Dr. Goldbloom is also an officer of the Order of Canada and has received numerous other honours including the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.

Dal connections

Both Drs. Kutcher and Bernard commend the quality of students here at Dal as part-and-parcel with their recognitions, crediting the students with enabling much of what’s possible at the university.

“In many cases, the students are the ones doing the teaching and pushing to limits to explore areas that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to explore,” Dr. Kutcher said. “It’s this environment at Dal in which there is constant questioning, critical thinking and the wish to actually be better than you were that allows us to be excellent.”

Also inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia this year were author and historian Ruth Whitehead and acclaimed poet, playwright, and actor Walter Borden. Learn more about the Order at its website.


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