NSASW award recipients-2012

Robert S. Wright, RSW

The Recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Service Award

Robert is an individual with broad experience in several fields and a growing collection of professional identities.  Since September of 2010, he has been a full-time PhD student at Dalhousie University's Sociology and Social Anthropology Department.  Since August of 2011, he has been a full-time Lecturer at Mount Saint Vincent University's Department of Child & Youth Study.  Since late in 1989 Robert has maintained a small private practice in social work.

Robert is a Registered Social Worker (RSW) with experience and education in areas of Child Welfare; Education; Mediation; Child, Family and Forensic Mental Health; Cultural Competence and Corporate Leadership. He has both a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in Social Work, a Certificate in Divorce Mediation Theory and is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology.  His current research project explores the experience and path of African Nova Scotians who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

Robert has maintained a part-time Registered Private Practice in Social Work for over 20 years. In this capacity he has provided direct clinical services to individuals, groups and families and provided clinical supervision and consulting to other clinicians and clinical teams. Robert has held a variety of clinical and administrative "day jobs" throughout his career. He has worked in education as a student support worker, school social worker and coordinator of race relations; and in child welfare as a front line social worker, casework supervisor, forensic clinician, and as an executive director. He has held notable positions as the Race Relations Coordinator of the former Dartmouth District School Board; a correctional mental health counsellor at the Washington State Penitentiary working with mentally disordered, protective custody and death row inmates; and, from May 2007 to August 2010, as the Executive Director of Nova Scotia's Child and Youth Strategy, a comprehensive, collaborative plan to promote better outcomes for children and youth.  

In addition to his community, clinical and administrative work, Robert is a compelling speaker and trainer. He has presented motivational, devotional and instructional presentations to large numbers of clients in various locations across the United States and Canada.  He has been involved with a number of organizations and associations throughout his career. He has served as the president of the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association, is a member of the Racial Equity Committee of the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society, and a member of the Board of Directors of the North End Community Health Centre.

Robert is a family man. He comes from a large extended family that he considers a source of great strength and motivation. He is a parent of 2 children that he describes as having come to him "one by works and one by grace" (his oldest is the child of his former marriage, his youngest is adopted).  Robert has also served as a foster parent and surrogate uncle for many others over the years. This is nothing new in the Wright family. Robert says he watched his mother "bring up the neighbourhood" when he was a child. Despite having retired from fostering a couple of times, his mother continues providing short term placements for children with few other options. "I guess I came by it naturally" Robert says

Christine Pynch, RSW

Recipient of the David William Connors Memorial Award

Christine is a dedicated and caring social worker who always puts the best interests of clients first. She always reminds me of what an honour it is to be able to help people.

Christine began working in the field of social work and public service in Nova Scotia over 27 years ago. In 1978, she received a Rehabilitation Services Diploma from Red Deer College in Alberta and became a Registered Social Worker in Nova Scotia during the 190’s. She began her career in Nova Scotia after returning from Calgary where she worked with children and youth with disabilities and also at Evergreen Nursing Home in Coldbrook, NS. Christine switched to working with the Municipality of Kings in the 1980`s where she also worked with people with disabilities until 1998 and then the county amalgamated with the Department of Community Services. She has been one of the main social workers working as a care coordinator for the program Services for Persons with Disabilities and has portrayed excellent client service delivery.

When I started working in the SPD Kentville office several years ago, I met so many clients who would always say to me: “Do you know Christine Pynch” and I would say, “Yes I do!” Then they would they would continue by telling me their story and how she helped them leave the most horrific situations and get them support including basic needs such as food, clothes, a job and safe housing that they could call their home. When clients speak about Christine, it is with respect and they tell me that she listened to them and their needs. I have witnessed Christine working with clients and also community organizations. She displays dignity and respect to everyone she works with in all situations. She displays “good character” and is genuine which are rare qualities found in this present day. Christine has impacted many people over the years including youth, adults, families and also seniors. She is not a person who gets caught up in materialism and sees the person first, not the disability or another check mark on the things to do for the day. She has made a positive influence on many lives during her social work career with her “out-of-the-box” thinking and continues to do so.

In our office, Christine has played a fundamental part in role modeling what it means to be a social worker. She is devoted advocate for human rights especially for clients who have disabilities which many times get forgotten in our society. She is very caring to those that need her help whether it is client or co-worker. Christine reminds us about what it is to be human when making mistakes, about being empathetic to others, and that everyone has the potential to change. She gives us hope when the rest of us can be caught in the storm

Christine also reminds us that we are there to help people in need and that it is our calling to be there to support others. Self-reflection and self- growth are important activities to Christine and she challenges us to do it in an inspiring manner. I always remember a comment she had stated to me. “We don`t stop growing at 18”.

After reflecting on her years of service as a practising social worker who has had an influential impact on people across the life span, I believe it would be an honour to present the David William Connors Memorial Award to Christine Pynch.

This tribute to Christine Pynch was made by her nominator and co-worker, Bernadette Fraser, BHE, BSW, RSW.

Elizabeth McQuaid, RSW

Recipient of the Ken Belanger Memorial Award

( Elizabeth (Liz) McQuaid was nominated by her co-workers Laura Cormier, MSW, RSW and Jennifer MacLennan, BSW, RSW)

We have worked directly with Liz at the Addiction Prevention and Treatment Services of Capital Health for the past four years and during tat time have been struck at her ability to manage a very demanding case load as a Community Outreach Worker social worker as well as be involved in many community projects that promote and support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. She has been and continues to assist her colleagues by acting as a resource in terms of education and awareness of LBGT issues. The gentle, respectful and thoughtful approach she provides has been greatly appreciated by us.

(Elizabeth McQuaid's nomination for the Ken Belanger Award was supported by co-worker Patrick Daigle, MSW, RSW.)

I have known Liz for the past seven years personally and professionally. My first experience with her was while chairing Halifax Pride in 2005/2006. She demonstrated leadership, acceptance and determination to promote the true meaning behind Pride. Liz would continue to do this for the next several years in many positions on the Halifax Pride committee – including co-chair on more than one occasion.

In addition to the announcements Liz brought to HRM throughout the year, via Halifax Pride she has sat on the national Fearta Pride board. Liz has taken the responsibilities that come with this position very seriously as she works to not only advance LGBT issues in her home area of Nova Scotia but nationally as well.

As Chairperson of the Youth Project and OUT Alive – a group developed to educate the LGBT community on substance use and/or gambling, which Liz and I are both very actively involved in, I have witnessed firsthand the positive role modelling Liz has shown to young people within the LGBT community and their allies. Her commitment to the Youth Project, OUT! Alive and the work she has done with the MANA for health food bank – a food bank to help those within the LGBT community struggling with HIV/AIDS, and her commitment to spirituality while involved in the Metropolitan Church during its existence in our area continue to amaze many including myself.

I am Liz’s Social Work Candidate Supervisor; she is my co-worker at Addiction Prevention and Treatment Services; a fellow volunteer within the community and a very dedicated friend. Finally, I call Liz McQuaid my role model who I have learned more than I will ever be able to give back.