2010 Recipients of the Medal of Merit
In chemistry, a catalyst increases the rate of reaction in other elements without changing itself in a permanent way. J. Regis Duffy has a history in our province of initiating activity and causing others to alter the way they think, but he is far from the kind of substance that doesn’t change itself.
Born in Kinkora in 1932, Duffy attended St. Dunstan’s University, going on to Fordham University in New York for his master’s and Ph.D. His academic career includes serving as chairman of St. Dunstan’s chemistry department, after which he was made the first Dean of Science at University of Prince Edward Island. As a published academic who belongs to various professional and learned societies, he enjoys a strong reputation in Canada and the United States.
In 1970 Duffy formed Diagnostic Chemicals Limited, a company that, from modest beginnings, became a major force in the development of active pharmaceutical ingredients. DCL’s successor, BioVectra, has expanded further into pharmaceutical products and speciality chemicals. DCL has been ranked as one of the top companies in Atlantic Canada, and over forty years Duffy has won numerous awards and received well-deserved accolades for innovation and business excellence.
He also has a long-standing commitment, dating from 1962, to the university. Whether as a professor, Dean or Chairman of the Board of Governors, Duffy has contributed much to the life of the community at University of Prince Edward Island, as well as to the provincial scientific community. The university has recognized his achievements many times, and in 2007 confirmed him as Chair Emeritus of the Board.
His community services record includes work for the City of Charlottetown, ACF Equity Atlantic, and Prince Edward Island BioAlliance Inc. None of these responsibilities has hindered him from lending his time and considerable vitality to help raise funds for UPEI, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Junior Achievement, and the Canadian Red Cross in P.E.I..
In 1995 Duffy was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, and just two years ago received the P.E.I. Region Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian Award. His “remarkable contributions to the social, economic and cultural life” of P.E.I. are manifest in infrastructure we see around us; they’re visible in how his work has encouraged other businesses to develop; and they make themselves felt each day in the economic life of our province. It is safe to say that without him much of that would not be present, or would not be established here yet. J. Regis Duffy is a visionary who sees how things can change, and he provokes and inspires others to innovate and look ahead. For these reasons, and many others, he is a notable recipient of the Order of Prince Edward Island.
Every day we hear of dangers to our environment due to climate change, the incapacity to stop oil spills at sea, and, closer to home, how a damaged fuel tank threatens the soil around a church, business or home. Such events seem completely beyond our control or influence.
Diane Griffin, born in Traveller’s Rest to a farming family, and resident of Stratford, whether employed at universities or within governments, has taught, written and developed policies on ecological issues to change how we think, to empower us with knowledge and to ensure that succeeding generations will, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, meet nature “face to face” and enjoy “an original relation to the universe.”
This well-known biologist and naturalist has worked to maintain, restore and extend natural areas in Prince Edward Island, as well as in Alberta. Griffin is currently the P.E.I. Program Manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Her articles and talks, provincially and nationally, have influenced many people directly, distributing further the message that protecting the environment is within the power of everyone, and essential for the well-being of the whole planet. Griffin has been commended by many. In 2008 alone she received both the Hon. J. Angus MacLean Natural Areas award, presented by Island Nature Trust, and the Prince Edward Island Environmental Award.
Griffin’s energy and determination in promoting smarter land protection have been seen in such things as her successful advocacy that valuable wetlands and dunes at Greenwich, once slated for condominium development, instead became part of the National Park. In Stratford she has been a supporter of the bus system as well as efforts to reduce light pollution through a dark-sky initiative. She has also taken fellow Rotarians out on nature walks.
Those examples show us Griffin’s capacities, and point out that when individuals take intelligent action to rescue parts of the environment nearest their homes, they contribute to the betterment of the province, the country and beyond. Our Island’s culture is expressed, partly, in our stewardship of nature. When we take care of it we reaffirm, often in intangible but felt ways, some of our society’s strongest beliefs, and hopes for the future. The English poet Milton considered it was “... an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out, and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.” Diane Griffin enriched herself through her studies and labours, and by doing so has been able to help us partake in the beauty of the wilderness around us, which can seem imperilled by immense forces at times. She has also given us ideas and strategies for preserving both nature and our provincial identity.
Father Brady Smith
In recognizing the work Fr. Brady Smith has conducted throughout Prince Edward Island and the Atlantic provinces as he has helped individuals and families battle addictions, it’s appropriate to recall lines from the Book of Job: “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.” This recipient of the Order of Prince Edward Island has done precisely that.
Born eighty-four years ago in Fort Augustus, Fr. Smith early on felt the lure of alcohol and, sometime after, the call of the religious life, a combination that, as the years passed, would turn him inside out. At times his life spun out of control, and it was not predictable that he would come through a harrowing ordeal some of us may know intimately, and some of us can only imagine. Aided by his faith, Fr. Smith became transformed from a sufferer of his own disease, as one person has called it, into someone who could assist others in overcoming similar problems.
That did not happen overnight. In the 1950s Fr. Smith moved to Ontario and became a Brother. While studying and playing sports he tried to quit drinking, but this proved difficult. Years of torment, joblessness, illness and living on the street followed. “God changes not what is in a people, until they change what is in themselves,” goes another holy verse, and it was at this dark time that Fr. Smith courageously joined Alcoholic Anonymous. He went on to university, where he studied addictions to understand them and their power. When he eventually moved back to Prince Edward Island he worked for the Addiction Foundation. Later he was ordained as a priest.
Fr. Smith opened Serenity Place in Charlottetown, and from his own difficult experiences counselled people with alcohol, gambling and narcotic addictions, as well as the affected families. In 1999 he received the Premier’s Crime Prevention Award. Even today he still counsels those whose addictions have gotten the better of them.
“First the man takes a drink/ Then the drink takes a man,” goes an old adage. Fr. Smith has brought men and women from all over out of a drug-fuelled life and back into the life they either had left or had, at some level, dreamed of or yearned for. In many cases families have been restored–changed, it is true, but strengthened.
The Order of P.E.I. recognizes “remarkable contributions to the social, economic and cultural life” of P.E.I. and its residents. Through his ministrations of the fallen, aware of his own fallibility and using the strength that comes from such hard-won knowledge, Fr. Brady Smith lives up to those requirements.