Two Cape Breton women named to Order of Canada

By Nancy King
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Aug. 31, 2005

Sydney - Two prominent Cape Breton women are among the newest recipients of the countryís highest honour.

Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson announced 82 new appointments to the Order of Canada Tuesday, including Sr. Dorothy Moore as a member, and Elizabeth May as an officer.

There are three levels of the Order of Canada: companion, officer and member.

Moore is an educational leader and a respected Miíkmaq elder who has devoted herself to the preservation and restoration of her language and culture. She is credited with being an architect of the Nova Scotia Department of Educationís provincial Miíkmaq language curriculum. Moore was the first Miíkmaq to attend public school in Sydney and was also Nova Scotiaís first Miíkmaq nun.

Reached on her cellphone Tuesday, Moore, 72, said she was taken by surprise when she recently learned of the honour. "It was most unexpected. I immediately thought, ĎMy gosh, I canít believe it,í" Moore said. She said she regards the appointment not just as an individual honour. "I think itís an honour for my congregation, my people ó the Miíkmaq people ó and my family, and also for Cape Breton," Moore said.

In 2003, Moore was named to the Order of Nova Scotia. She began her career as an elementary teacher in Sampsonville, Richmond County, and throughout her career taught at various schools across Nova Scotia. "I was very interested in working with my own people, and eventually, I did," Moore said. "Once I had that opportunity, I knew what was needed for First Nations education and I did everything I could possibly do to realize what was needed."

In addition to working in native and non-native schools, Moore has also served on the faculty at Cape Breton University and spent seven years with the Department of Education in Halifax. "I worked on developing curriculum or promoting who we are culturally, linguistically, spiritually, historically," she said. "Iím not patting myself on the back, but I think a lot of times I was a springboard for some of those changes."

During her 40-plus year career in education, Moore has received numerous awards, including the Stephen Hamilton Outstanding Achievement Award in 1989 and the Atlantic Canada Innovator of the Year in the education category in 1990, and she has been an education consultant for Membertou First Nation.

May could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She is a noted environmentalist and has worked on issues as an activist, lawyer and author. She is currently executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. She first became heavily involved in environmental issues in the mid-70s opposing budworm spraying.

May was born in Connecticut in 1954, but was raised in Cape Breton. She is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School and was admitted to the bar in both Nova Scotia and Ontario. She has held the position of associate general counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, representing consumer, poverty and environment groups in her work.

In 1998, Dalhousie University announced the creation of the Elizabeth May Chair in Womenís Health and the Environment, a result of two anonymous donations to the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Womenís Health, and May was named its first chair. She has also written several books.

Previous awards she has received include the International Conservation Award from the Friends of Nature, and the United Nations Global 500 Award. In 1996, May was presented with the award for Outstanding Leadership in Environmental Education by the Ontario Society for Environmental Education.

May is also a member of the board of directors of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and is the former vice-chair of the National Round Table for the Environment and Economy.