1998 Recipients of the Medal of Merit
Marlene Bryenton was born and raised in Charlottetown. She is however, recognized Island wide for her volunteer work including her association with IODE (formerly the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire) and the many other worthy initiatives and projects she has undertaken. Her mission, and that of IODE, has been to improve, through education, social service and citizenship programs, the quality of life for children, youth and those in need. In this regard, Marlene has distinguished herself.
Her leadership has served as inspiration to members of her own IODE Chapter and to all Prince Edward Islanders. She is widely acknowledged as a “team player” and encourages all who work with her to pull together for the common good in an effort to achieve their respective goals. She has the unique gift of having the ability to cultivate and utilize each person’s special talents and gifts and perseveres with them to successfully complete their fundraising and other projects. For example, due in no small part to Marlene’s efforts, the Lake of the Shining Waters Chapter IODE, with only 21 members, has been recognized across Canada for its many achievements in its thirty years of community service.
In 1987, the “International Year of Shelter for the Homeless”, and as a result of Marlene’s leadership, Lake of the Shining Waters Chapter IODE devised projects which raised over $32,000 to help feed the hungry at the Food Bank. Again, Lake of the Shining Waters Chapter IODE was chosen from 357 Chapters across Canada and received the prestigious National Chapter IODE Award for initiating the most innovative projects...all of this in no small way attributable to Marlene’s dedication, commitment and hard work.
In addition, Marlene has received the Health and Welfare Canada Merit Award for community service and the Health and Social Services “Health for Life” certificate in recognition of her valuable contributions toward the promotion of the health and well being of Islanders. She has also coordinated an award winning float in the Gold Cup & Saucer Parade promoting the National IODE Program “Food for Thought” which is now operational in 21 Island Schools. She has been recognized by Readers Digest and the Canadian Living Magazine for her innovative and successful fund raising initiatives.
Through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Marlene has implemented the “Cuddle and Read Program” during the “International Year of the Family”. She has introduced and coordinated the “Cozee Baby Safe” Project. She was instrumental in refurbishing the Charlottetown Boys and Girls Club, in developing the annual Earth Day Activity Page in the Guardian newspaper to help students celebrate Earth Week, has coordinated several major IODE fashion shows as a fundraiser for the QEH equipment drive and partners with the RCMP in the “Racing Against Drugs” program. Marlene has researched, implemented and now coordinates the well received and highly acclaimed “Baby Think It Over Program” in Island High Schools.
The foregoing illustrates Marlene’s keen desire to help others. Her positive attitude and energetic personality are paramount in the success of the Lake of the Shining Waters IODE and all other programs and initiatives which have had the benefit of Marlene’s strength and devotion. In addition to facing many other challenges, Marlene’s volunteer work has been truly exemplary and personifies the qualities and characteristics that the Order of Prince Edward Island was established to recognize.
Marie Burge has a vocation to advance the quality of life for people. She has done a good job. A spiritual person, her inner strength, beauty and calmness radiates outward to all that she encounters be they young or old. She herself has had many challenges and adventures as a young girl growing up in St. Peter’s Bay, a student at St. Dunstan’s University, a teacher in Kinkora and Morell, a Pastoral Assistant for St. Paul’s Church in Summerside, a community organizer in the Dominican Republic, an educator and researcher at Cooper Institute in Charlottetown, and as an active volunteer on many boards and committees in PEI and Canada.
In 1984, Marie Burge helped found the innovative Cooper Institute of PEI whose leadership and work focuses on the needs of workers in the farming, fishing and service sectors; and also that #of marginalized and overlooked people in Island society, such as women, those in poverty, and aboriginal and immigrant families. For all of these people, Marie is tireless in her efforts to assist the participants in reaching their individual and economic potential, with dignity.
Marie is also a dedicated and loyal volunteer worker in community-based organizations, such as:
- Services for Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse;
- The Latin American Mission Program of the Diocese of Charlottetown;
- The 1997 “Signs of the Times Art Auction” fundraiser promoting women’s art and business; and,
- PEI Women Do Math and Science, an eight-year project that encourages girls to expand their education and career options in life.
Marie’s loyalty is matched only by her advocacy for positive social change. As a professional educator, her skills as an effective lobbyist for needed services behind the scenes, as well as centre stage through the media, have allowed her to do research and compose presentations to all levels of government. To date, she has helped write and present over 50 submissions to government in an effort to enhance both local and global societies.
As a feminist, Marie is dedicated to the principles of inclusion. The work Marie has chosen for herself is that of social justice, which is difficult and sometimes frustrating, but always challenging and energizing. Her decision to work with others to promote equality for people in need of a better way of life, and her tremendous success in her vocation has been noticed. Marie Burge has also been noticed by the people she has met, influenced and inspired over these many years of selfless work and dedication. Much has been done by this one woman. Her contribution and actions serve to enhance the social and economic status of Islanders. It is for these reasons and in acknowledgement of her tireless efforts, that she is being honoured today.
Antoine Richard is a community-minded individual. From a very young age, Antoine has been committed to improving the quality of life for Islanders. His contribution in the areas of education, health, cooperative movement, tourism and preservation of the French language and culture is unquestionable.
Since 1992, Antoine Richard has been administrator of the Le Chez-Nous ltée cooperative, a residential health care centre for seniors of the Evangeline Area. Antoine has worked very hard to ensure the establishment of this centre in order to allow seniors from the Evangeline Area to stay in their community.
His commitment in the area of health is not limited to everyday services provided to individuals. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Prince County Hospital and he is now a member of the Prince County Hospital Foundation.
His contribution to tourism dates back to the opening of the Acadian Pioneer Village, when area fishermen had experienced a very poor fishing season. Wanting to help fishing families survive what was going to be a rough winter, Antoine and other members of the community initiated the construction of a replica of an early day Acadian village. This project became an important economic driving force for the Evangeline Area. The Étoile de mer restaurant and the Cuisine à Mémé dinner-theatre have become quite popular. In addition to meeting the financial needs of Acadian fishermen, the project also helped preserve and promote the Acadian culture. Antoine has also been Chairman of the Evangeline Tourism Association.
At the education level, Antoine was President of the Unit 5 School Board for eight years. He was also President of the Prince Edward Island School Board Association and President of the Committee responsible for the construction of the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean in Charlottetown.
Antoine is solidly attached to his Acadian roots. He has been and continues to be dedicated to this cause in particular. First of all, as officer of the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin from 1970 to 1975, he worked with the Acadian communities throughout the province. He again became involved with the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin as its volunteer president from 1983 to 1987 and again since 1996. He was also a member of the Acadian Communities Advisory Committee.
In recognition of his many years of active participation in community development, Antoine received the following distinctions:
- 1985 - Acadian of the Year - awarded by the Acadian Festival of the Evangeline Area
- 1986 - Ordre de la fidélité française - awarded by the Council for French Life in America
- 1987 - Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique - awarded by the Conseil de la langue #- française
- 1992 - Médaille Léger Comeau - awarded by the Société nationale de l’Acadie
- 1997 - Honorary Doctorate - awarded by the University of Prince Edward Island.