Ken Belanger came to Halifax in the late 1970s, immigrating to Canada from the United States. He received a Master of Social Work degree from the Maritime School of Social Work. In the early 1980s, he worked for the Association for Family Life, now known as Family Service Association of HRM. Ken left the Association to establish a successful private practice, consulting with community organizations and agencies and serving clients, among them the gay and lesbian community, and men and youth who were abusive to others and/or had been victims of abuse. In 1985, Ken founded the New Start Program for men abusive to their female partners and worked for several years as a counselor with the men's groups and with the families of clients of New Start. During this time, he collaborated closely with Bryony House, the Halifax transition house for abused women.

Ken was also part of the movement of people, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, who fought to have sexual orientation included in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground of discrimination. This was achieved in 1991.

In the early 1990s, Ken moved to Fredericton where he continued his private practice and worked with home care. Returning to Halifax in 1996, he re-established his private practice activities, among them custody and access assessments and counseling, and work with youth on sexuality issues. He also served as a volunteer counselor on the Helpline for gay and lesbian youth.

Ken was a member of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers for many years and was active in different aspects of social work education, including serving as a field supervisor for students of the Maritime School of Social Work. Ken showed courage in being out as a gay man in the social service and social work communities, and in speaking out about different forms of oppression and exploitation. He worked to educate social workers about heterosexuality and the realities and needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. Ken was generous in giving of his time and skills to community groups and organizations, for example, writing funding proposals and serving as a board member.

After a long and courageous struggle with depression, Ken died on August 14, 1998.

Past Recipients:

2000 Brenda Richard
2002 Maura K. Donovan
2004 No Recipient Selected
2006 Elaine Jacobson
2008 Jim Oulton
2010 Youth Project (support and services for lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgendered youth)


David Connors, MSW, RSW, is remembered as devoted to his family, a religious man and a committed professional social worker. His personal and professional priorities throughout his life and career stressed the importance of respect, caring, empathy and dignity towards others.

David was engaged in clinical social work after graduating from Dalhousie University in 1984 with a Master of Social Work degree. He worked with children at the IWK Hospital for Children, the Nova Scotia Hospital in the forensic unit and the South Shore Regional Hospital in the adolescent unit and the early response service.

He undertook advanced training and one year internship at the Colorado Centre for Advanced Training in Sexual Abuse Victims which focused his career attention on work with youth. He was involved in the planning of this project at the time of his death.

David was the personification of human love and caring towards his fellow human beings, qualities which made him a very successful professional social worker and led him to help those who were fortunate to have crossed his path. David passed away in 1996, early in his career before many of his dreams were fulfilled but his memory lives on in this award.

The David William Connors Award was established by the NSASW Council in 1997 and is bestowed annually to a member of NSASW who works in direct practice especially with youth. The first recipient received the award at the Annual Convention of the Association in May 1998. The award is framed and presented to the recipient and, in addition, a plaque is placed in the NSASW office commemorating the award with an engraving of each recipient's name.

David William Connors Memorial Award Recipients

1998 Shauna Stuart
1999 Alfred G. Doucet
2001 Brenda Marie Spears
2002 Gerald Lawless
2003 Kimberly Wood
2004 Patricia Russell and Frank Allen
2005 (No information available)
2006 (No information available)
2007 Georgette Burke and Gail E. MacDougall
2008 Robert Morris
2009 (No information available)
2010 Wendy Street