Intergovernmental and International Relations

Order of New Brunswick recipients announced (05/08/01)

NB 954

Aug.1, 2005

STANLEY (CNB) -- Premier Bernard Lord today announced the names of the 10 recipients of the Order of New Brunswick, the highest honorary distinction awarded by the Province.

The premier took advantage of the New Brunswick Day celebrations to reveal the names of the recipients of the Order of New Brunswick for 2005. The premier's announcement came as Lt.- Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson signed the Order-in-Council to make this year's appointments official.

The recipients are :

- Gordon Fairweather, Rothesay
- William Gale, Saint John
- Margaret LaBillois, Eel River Bar
- Right. Hon. Roméo LeBlanc, Grand-Digue
- Hon. Antonine Maillet, Bouctouche/Montreal
- Dr. Mary Majka, Albert County
- Dr. Dan O'Brien, Fredericton
- Willie O'Ree, Fredericton/New York
- Jeannette Pelletier, Edmundston
- David Adams Richards, Miramichi/Toronto

"The richness of our province is in its people," Lord said. "Today, 10 outstanding individuals are being recognized for having contributed, in an exceptional way, to the prosperity of the province. On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I thank them for their dedication and service."

The 10 new appointees will receive the Order of New Brunswick at a ceremony to be held this fall at Old Government House in Fredericton. These new appointments bring to 39 the number of New Brunswickers inducted into the select group of recipients of the order.

The Order of New Brunswick was established in 2000 to recognize New Brunswickers who have demonstrated excellence and achievement in a particular area, and who have made an outstanding contribution to the social, cultural, or economic well-being of our province. The first official ceremony was held in 2002.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The biographies of the 10 recipients appear below. MEDIA CONTACT: Gisèle Regimbal, communications, Intergovernmental and International Relations, 506-444-4594.

Gordon Fairweather, Rothesay

Gordon Fairweather was the first Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and held that position for 10 years. He was the founding chair of Canada's new Immigration and Refugee Board and remained in that position from 1987 - 1992. Fairweather served in the New Brunswick Legislature from 1952 - 1962; from 1958 - 60 he was Attorney General. In 1962 he was elected to the House of Commons, representing the riding of Fundy- Royal until 1977. He has been an official observer of elections in Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Guatemala and Malaysia.


He led the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission meetings in Geneva on three occasions. Fairweather is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has also received the Federal Government Outstanding Achievement Award, the New Brunswick Humanitarian Award, the N.B. Division of the Canadian Red Cross Society Humanitarian Award, and has seven honorary degrees from Canadian universities.

William Gale, Saint John

William T. Gale was born in Placentia, Newfoundland. Upon graduating from St. Edwards High School in 1953 he enrolled in the schools Business Program. In October 1954 he joined the Royal Bank of Canada in his hometown of Placentia as a junior clerk and subsequently held management positions at various locations throughout Atlantic Canada. In August 1989 he was promoted to vice-president, New Brunswick and Area Manager Saint John. He held this position until his retirement in 1993.

Over the decades, Gale has served on community boards and organizations in a wide variety of capacities. His community-mindedness has spread throughout Atlantic Canada.


In 1997, Gale became increasingly concerned about the poverty levels in Saint John. He conceived an organization comprised of individuals from the business and professional community whose function it would be to implement a long- term plan to end the cycle of poverty. The movement became known as the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI). Through Gale's leadership and continuing position as co-chair, BCAPI has addressed poverty as a process of community capacity building rather than as a 'project'. Gale is the recipient of the Saint John YM-YWCA 2001 Red Triangle Award and the New Brunswick Day Merit Award.

Margaret LaBillois, Eel River Bar

In 1939, Margaret LaBillois became the first resident of Eel River Bar to graduate from high school. In 1982, she graduated from Lakehead University with an Honours Degree in Native Languages.


In 1970, LaBillois was elected as Chief of Eel River Bar First nations, making her the first female chief in New Brunswick. She is a 1998 recipient of the Order of Canada in recognition of her leadership qualities and significant demonstration of traditional skills. She also served in the RCAF as a nurse during World War II.


Right Hon. Roméo LeBlanc, Grande-Digue

Roméo LeBlanc was born in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1927. In 1960, he entered the journalism field, working as a correspondent for Radio-Canada. This led to LeBlanc serving as press secretary to Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.


LeBlanc was elected to the House of Commons in 1972, representing the riding of Westmorland-Kent in New Brunswick. He was a cabinet minister from 1974 to 1979 and 1980 to 1984. As Canada's longest-serving fisheries minister, LeBlanc won a lasting reputation as a friend of the fishermen. He helped to establish Canada's 200-mile fishing limit and to shape the International Law of the Sea.

LeBlanc became a Senator in 1984 and was appointed Speaker of the Senate in 1993. The Right Hon. Roméo LeBlanc became Governor-General of Canada on Feb. 8, 1995, and was the first Governor-General from the Maritimes.

Hon. Antonine Maillet, Bouctouche/Montreal

Antonine Maillet is a prolific Acadian writer of national and international renown; she is probably best known for her book and the character of La Sagouine. Her novel Pélagie-la- Charette earned her the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1979, the first time this award was bestowed on a non-European author. Maillet has won over 17 prizes for literature. She has over 30 honorary doctorates and has been invested with over 20 orders.


In addition to her careers as a writer and guest speaker, Maillet is often asked to represent l'Acadie both nationally and internationally. For example, she was master of ceremonies of the opening session of the chefs d'état at the 8th Sommet de la Francophonie held in Moncton in 1999; on behalf of the Université de Moncton, she presented an honorary doctorate to French President Jacques Chirac; she accompanied the President of France and the Prime Minister of Canada to Canada's Great North.

Dr. Mary Majka

Born in Poland, Dr. Mary Majka immigrated to Canada over 50 years ago. Since 1961, when she arrived in New Brunswick, she has been an untiring champion of this province. Her love and knowledge of nature and history led her to start a variety of ambitious undertakings promoting the understanding, protection and conservation of valuable and unique features in this, her beloved new home.


She spearheaded the establishment of naturalist and heritage organizations, wrote articles and books, organized workshops and conferences, served on national and provincial boards and councils, established two nature centres, hosted a TV show, and saved from demolition a number of historic structures and sites. Through her efforts, the Black-capped Chickadee became our provincial bird.

Majka has been honoured with various awards including an honorary doctorate from the University of New Brunswick. She is 82 years old, has been married for 56 years, has two sons, and has been a mother figure for many more youngsters. Her family home is at Mary's Point in Albert County.

Dr. Daniel O'Brien

Dr. Daniel O'Brien was appointed president and vice chancellor of St. Thomas University in 1990. Under his leadership, the university has been a regional trendsetter in strategic planning, program innovation, student services and campus beautification.


A planned and strategic growth has transformed St. Thomas. At a time when liberal arts enrolments were declining, its student population has more than doubled. Program offerings have been expanded. The faculty complement has been expanded. Five buildings have expanded the campus, more than doubling the physical plant, and ground was recently broken on McCain Hall, a new academic building for students and faculty.

During this expansion, financial stewardship has been maintained with positive financial performance for capital campaigns and annual accounts. The university is recognized for its leadership in liberal arts education, noted for its focus on the quality of the student educational experience.

O'Brien has served as a member or chair of many community organizations including the Greater Fredericton Economic Development Council, Region 3 Health Authority Board of Trustees, Team Fredericton Advisory Board and the Fredericton United Way Campaign Cabinet. He was recognized as one of the 'Top 50' CEOs in Atlantic Canada and is currently chair of the board of governors of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Willie O'Ree, Fredericton/New York

Willie O'Ree was the first black man to play in the National Hockey League. He is a New Brunswick sports legend whose life has been documented in print and film.

O'Ree is the Director of the NHL's Youth Development/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force and travels throughout Canada and the United States promoting hockey among inner city youth and encouraging fair play. His message to youth wherever he goes is to 'stay in school and get your education'.


O'Ree has never forgotten his roots and has always given his time to support important causes locally and throughout the province.

Jeannette Pelletier / Edmundston

An energetic and committed woman, Jeannette Pelletier has consistently put her leadership qualities to work for the benefit of local, regional and provincial organizations and associations.


A devoted educator, she taught in New Brunswick elementary and secondary schools for 36 years. During 15 of those years she was head of the Science and Math department at the Polyvalente Roland-Pépin in Campbellton, NB.

Upon her retirement in 1987, Jeannette Pelletier founded and chaired the Cercle Madawaska in Edmundston, an association for retired Francophone teachers in the region. In 1991, she was elected president of the provincial association of the Society.

From 1979 to 1982 she chaired the Fédération provinciale des Dames d'Acadie (FDA). In 1982, she was named the New Brunswick representative and a member of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women in Ottawa.

Her greatest achievement was the founding of the Université du Troisième Âge du Nord-Ouest, the UTANO, a third age centre serving seniors in the northwestern region.

For the past 15 years, Pelletier has been voluntarily co-ordinating and providing administrative support for services offered at the Diocese of Edmundston.

David Adams Richards, Miramichi/Toronto

David Richards is an author of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. He has published many books including The Coming of Winter, The Bay of Love and Sorrows, Nights Below Station Street and Mercy Among the Children.

Richards received the Governor General's Award for fiction for Nights Below Station Street. He also won the Canadian Author's Association Award in 1991. He was awarded the Canada- Australia Literary Prize in 1993 and the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in English Language Literary Arts. In 2000, he won the Giller Prize for Mercy Among the Children, and in 2001, the CBA Libris Award for novel of the year, and author of the year.


Richards has also received two Gemini Awards. Nights Below Station Street and Bay of Love and Sorrows have been made into films.