Government of New Brunswick

The names of the recipients of the 2011 Order of New Brunswick were released as part of New Brunswick Day celebrations.

The award honours current or former long-time residents of New Brunswick who have demonstrated a high level of individual excellence and achievement in any field, having made outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of New Brunswick and its residents.



Biographical Notes


Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook (posthumous)




Sir Maxwell Aitken, the first Lord Beaverbrook, is renowned as one of New Brunswick’s most generous benefactors. 

Though born in Ontario in 1879, Aitken was raised in Newcastle and always considered the New Brunswick town to be his first home.  Following a remarkably successful business career in Canada, he moved to England in 1910 and was elected as a member of Parliament.  He was knighted the following year and received a peerage in 1917.  He went on to become the biggest newspaper baron in the United Kingdom and an author himself.

During the First World War, the Canadian government appointed Aitken to create the Canadian War Records Office in London.  He was appointed Britain’s first minister of information in 1918.  During the Second World War, he was appointed minister of aircraft production and later minister of supply.

For many years prior to his death in 1964 at the age of 85, Lord Beaverbrook contributed a great deal to his home province of New Brunswick.  His legacy includes the establishment of many buildings and institutions in the province. 

In Fredericton, these include the Lady Beaverbrook Arena, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and its world-class art collection, and The Playhouse theatre.  Also in the provincial capital, Aitken established Aitken House, the Aitken University Centre, the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium, the Lady Beaverbrook Residence, Beaverbrook House and scholarship funds at the University of New Brunswick, for which he served as chancellor from 1947 until 1964. 

In Miramichi, he established the Beaverbrook Theatre and Town Hall, now called the Beaverbrook Kin Centre, and the region’s first public library in Beaverbrook House, his boyhood home.

Sir Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, is posthumously being awarded the Order of New Brunswick for his tremendous philanthropy that continues to benefit the people of the province to this day.


Marjorie (Mardi) Cockburn, Fredericton




Over the years, Mardi Cockburn has made an enormous contribution to the development of our province and especially to the region of Greater Fredericton. Her contributions have had an enormous and positive effect on education, literacy, the arts and culture, public affairs, and health care.

Born in Fredericton, she moves to Halifax at the age of 12 and returned to New Brunswick to attend the University of New Brunswick where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Ms. Cockburn has been a significant force in the arts community in Fredericton and throughout New Brunswick, most notably during her service as chair of Theatre New Brunswick. She has also received the Lescarbot Award presented by the federal government in recognition of her outstanding contributions to community cultural activities.

She has been a tireless advocate for public libraries and literacy at the local, provincial and national level for many decades. She began her involvement a library board member in St. Stephen in 1966 and ultimately became president of the Canadian Library Trustees Association.  She received the association’s Merit Award for outstanding library trustee in Canada in 1989.

A proud alumnus of UNB, Ms. Cockburn has served as a member of its Board of Governors and its Senate as well as president of the Associated Alumni.  She recently guided the River Valley Regional Health Authority as its chair through a period of significant change and investment and currently sits on the board of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Ms. Cockburn has been recognized for her commitment to serving her community, her province and her country with the Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International, the Queen Golden Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 medal.

Mardi Cockburn is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her decades of commitment to enhancing the social, cultural and educational fabric of New Brunswick.


Patrick Darrah, Saint John




Pat Darrah has been a stalwart community leader and champion for the southern New Brunswick region throughout his long career and to this day, remains a key promoter of economic and social development.

As Executive Director of the Saint John Construction Association, Mr. Darrah has been at the forefront of fostering positive labour relations and in pioneering and advocating workplace health and safety awareness. He is known as an excellent negotiator who always seems to reach an agreement. He also acts as an ambassador for the province and the industry atthe national and international levels.

Mr. Darrah’s contributions touch all aspects of the Saint John community – business, economic, social and cultural well being. He has played a significant role in virtually every major development in Saint John over the past 30 years including the development of Market Square, the 1985 Jeux Canada Games, civic and provincial bicentennial celebrations, the Imperial Theatre, Harbour Station, the Aquatic Centre, the Canada Games Foundation, Port Development and most recently, the establishment of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, just to name a few.

He has also chaired numerous committees over the years such as the IWK Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, Saint John Housing Commission and the Saint John Fundy Regional Development Commission. He is on the board of Brunswick Pipeline and is a member of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board.

Mr. Darrah’s influence in other areas has been recognized with numerous awards including:

  • YMCA-YWCA Red Triangle Award
  • Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from UNBSJ
  • Canadian Society of Association Executives “pinnacle” Award
  • Queen’s Jubilee Medal
  • Thomas J. Higgins Award from the United Way of Saint John
  • UNBSJ Business Award
  • President’s Award from the Saint John Board of Trade
  • Canada Medal from the Government of Canada

Mr. Darrah has built an enviable reputation for his decades of work to build the community of Saint John and New Brunswick. His dedication to working with others to improve the social and cultural life and economic development of our province and his hometown has been a key factor in the success of so many initiatives and events.

Pat Darrah is receiving the Order of New Brunswick forhis contribution to the economic and social development of the Saint John areaand for his commitment to making his city and our province a better, richer place to live.


Rob Benn-Frenette, Fredericton




As an anti-bullying and anti-discrimination advocate, Rob Frenette has first-hand experience of how devastating bullying can be to a person. He experienced bullying throughout school, from Kindergarten to High School because he was different as a person living with Cerebral Palsy. 

Rather than retaliating against the years of bullying, he decided to speak out against it. He first drew national attention as a Grade 9 student at Bathurst High School for his activism, which continued throughout High School and into his studies at the New Brunswick Community College.

In 2006, Mr. Frenette co-founded Bullying, as the first youth-created anti-bullying website in Canada. This website helps youth throughout Canada to deal with bullying and provides information and counselling through the site and its 24-hour toll-free helpline to thousands of young Canadians. Rob currently serves as one of its executive directors of this national charity.

Closer to home, he worked with the former government and opposition to have December 17 declared Anti-bullying Day in New Brunswick and organized an anti-bullying summit last year in Fredericton, where more than 100 participants discussed the issue of bullying and how best to eliminate it.

Mr. Frenette continues to work on anti-bullying initiatives in our province as well as lending his expertise and insight to other organizations in New Brunswick and throughout Canada.

Rob Frenette is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his tireless devotion to and passionate commitment to ending the spectre of bullying for the youth of our province and all across Canada.


S. Paul Handa, Rothesay




Dr. Paul Handa has been practicing medicine in New Brunswick for more than 40 years. His vision and determination to improve patient care and to teach and mentor new doctors has been instrumental in the development of health care in our province. 

He has demonstrated great leadership throughout his career in medicine, not only in providing and advocating for leading-edge care for his patients, but also by introducing new treatment methods and promoting medical research.

He received his medical degree from Punjab University in 1960 and took his internship and residency in internal medicine in the United States, Ontario and Quebec, becoming specialized in nephrology. 

He began his practice as an internist in Saint John in 1969. He served as chief of medicine at the former DVA /West Saint John Community Hospital, as an attending nephrologist at the former General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital and finally as head of nephrology for the Saint John Regional Hospital and the former Atlantic Health Science Corporation.

Dr. Handa was instrumental in the creation and development of the Renal Dialysis Program in New Brunswick in 1970. This has allowed patients with acute and chronic renal diseases to be treated locally instead of being treated at medical centres out of province at great inconvenience and expense.  He was instrumental in establishing the Kidney Foundation of Canada in New Brunswick and the introduction of the Organ Procurement Program in our province.

He became the first Maritime physician to launch blood pressure screening surveys in 1976, established an echocardiography unit and introduced ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and clinical trials in New Brunswick.

Dr. Handa was also instrumental in developing post-graduate medical studies in New Brunswick and was a leader in establishing the medical program in Saint John in association with Dalhousie University Medical School, where he held the rank of professor of medicine and associate professor of physiology and bio-physics.

In recognition of his many contributions to the community and to his profession, he was awarded the 1998 Order of Merit by the New Brunswick Medical Society and was made a life member in 2005.  He was named a laureate of the American College of Physicians, Atlantic Provinces in 2004, and a master of the American College of Physicians - Internists in 2009. He was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Science by the University of New Brunswick in 2003.

Dr. Paul Handa is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his outstanding and pioneering contributions in the field of medicine as a doctor, teacher and leader in research and treatment and for making the lives of countless New Brunswickers better.


Jacques LaForge, Saint-André




Jacques LaForge is a driving force in the dairy industry in our province and an innovator in farming operations that has worked untiringly to promote and advance farming throughout New Brunswick.

Mr. LaForge and his wife Patsy operate a 1,000-acre mixed farming operation in Saint-André near Grand Falls. His diverse farm includes a dairy farm with 200 purebred Holstein cattle.

Throughout his farming career, he has been involved in making his industry better.  He has been a long-time advocate for the dairy industry and has served as a director of the NB Milk Marketing Board in 1985. He has served the Board as its vice-chairman and most recently as its chairman from 1995 to 2000.

Mr LaForge has also brought his expertise and drive to bear for the good of dairy farmers nationwide, serving on the board of the Dairy Farmers of Canada since the 1980s.  He became an executive member in 1999 and in 2004 was named its president, a position he held until July 2011.

Mr. LaForge has a passion to explore new market opportunities and is committed to finding the latest techniques and technologies to make farming more efficient and more productive. 

In his pursuit of better, more sustainable farming practices, he is nearing completion of a bio-digester for his farm which will not only produce electricity for his farm and for New Brunswick’s power grid, but will provide valuable compost to the local agricultural sector.

He has represented our province in regional, national and international trade arenas and has worked to promote the benefits of Canada’s farm marketing systems. As the national president, he has worked tirelessly to bring Canadian dairy farmers together to address the challenges facing their industry.

Jacques LaForge is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his passionate belief in farming in our province and our nation and for his work to ensure a bright future for his fellow farmers and for all New Brunswickers.


Gilmond Larocque, Lamèque




Gilmond Larocque has been a driving force in youth sports in our province for nearly four decades. His work as a coach, organizer and advocate for youth hockey in his home region of Shippagan/Lamèque/Miscou and as a key organizer and volunteer for les jeux de l’Acadie have been instrumental in building youth sports in the Acadian Peninsula and for francophone youth throughout our province.

A teacher by trade, Mr. Larocque taught in schools throughout his region during his 35 year career.  He earned a great reputation as a consummate educator who took great pride in his profession and in imparting his knowledge and his passion for learning in all his students.

His love of teaching naturally led him into the field of youth athleticism. He became involved with youth hockey in the early 1970s. As a coach, he led his minor hockey team to a provincial championship in 1972 and was a founding member of the committee that built the arena for Lamèque and Miscou. His example and his presence in youth sports has inspired others to get involved and to make a difference in the lives of young Acadians.

Mr. Larocque is perhaps best known for the key role he has played in the formation and development of les jeux de l’Acadie. First as a board member, vice-president and then president of the games and as a coach, as a chef de mission and as a volunteer through numerous games, he has been one of the most important builders and promoters of les jeux de l’Acadie into the great success it is today.

Mr. Larocque’s dedication to his region and his province has extended well beyond sports. He is serving in his third term as a member of the District Education Council for District 9 in the Acadian Peninsula.  He also works for the betterment of seniors in his region as a member and director of the Association acadienne et francophone des aînées et aînés du Nouveau-Brunswick.

He is also an accomplished an knowledgeable musician who has played his accordion and shared his love of traditional Acadian music to audiences throughout the region and through the  radio shows he has hosted over the years on community radio in the region.

He is considered by many that have had the pleasure of working with him to be a model for volunteerism and community involvement. 

Gilmond Larocque is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his many years of dedicated service to the education and development of the young people of the Acadian Peninsula and our province both in the classroom and on and off the sporting field and for sharing and promoting the unique musical legacy of the Acadian people to generations of listeners and musicians.


Léo-Paul Pinet, Bertrand




Léo-Paul Pinet, of Bertrand on the Acadian Peninsula, is well known as a champion of inclusiveness and social progress.  He has played a key role in many undertakings aimed at reducing poverty, promoting volunteerism and helping people to attain a better quality of life in New Brunswick.

Currently the executive director of the Centre de bénévolat de la Péninsule acadienne, Pinet is also active as: a member of the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative; a co-chair of Policy Link NB; a member of Reference group Health Canada – Atlantic; a co-founder of the Mouvement acadien des communautés en santé; a member of the Board of the Family Resource Centre of the Acadian Peninsula; and an advisory board member of the School of Social Work at l’Université de Moncton.

Pinet has worked with the Fondation communautaire de la Péninsule acadienne and Entreprise Péninsule.  He was also the first non-profit representative in all of the province’s Enterprise Networks.  Furthermore, he is a former member of the Advisory Committee for the Commission on Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick and has helped strengthen the infrastructure of service and supports for individuals and families in his region.

With his wealth of experience in public policy, social services and community development, Pinet was a natural choice for the position of co-chair in New Brunswick’s ground-breaking poverty reduction initiative Bringing the Pieces Together.  In that role, he ensured the process was non-partisan and fully inclusive.  He sought the input of New Brunswickers, including people actually living in poverty, around the province through a range of forums in which he was an active participant.  In this way, he was instrumental in the development of the first New Brunswick poverty reduction plan, Overcoming Poverty Together, as well as the adoption of the Economic and Social Inclusion Act.

Léo-Paul Pinet is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his leadership in, dedication to, and achievements in improving people’s quality of life throughout the province.


Jessica Ryan, Bathurst




Jessica Ryan has been the driving force behind the preservation of Bathurst’s heritage and history. Over the decades, Mrs. Ryan has taken advantage of every opportunity to promote and preserve Bathurst’s heritage. Her home and garage became the repository for “old things” that she recognized as important to Bathurst’s heritage until her dream of a heritage museum became a reality.

In 2003, her love of and interest in “old things” culminated in the creation of the Nepisiguit Centennial Museum/Cultural Centre, where the public now enjoys the artifacts she has collected and preserved. Mrs. Ryan continues to volunteer hundreds of hours managing the museum and sharing her knowledge and time with countless numbers of school children and general public who visit the museum.

Always on the look-out for opportunities to promote history and culture, Mrs. Ryan opened the museum to artists of the area and exhibits from around the province in the Gallery 360 on the mezzanine of the museum. She also reached out to the Chaleur Genealogical Society (now called the Bernard “Sonny” Veniot Archives) and the Multicultural Society, who now occupy the lower level of the museum building.

Mrs. Ryan’s involvement in preserving the past for future generations has reached beyond Bathurst. Mrs. Ryan was also a member of the advisory committee that oversaw the restoration of Old Government House in Fredericton.

Mrs. Ryan’s contributions are not limited to heritage and culture. Throughout her nursing career, Mrs. Ryan was a leader. As head nurse of the pediatrics department at the Chaleur Regional Hospital, she taught nursing courses, was a member of the Board of Directors of the former Bathurst School of Nursing and was instrumental in establishing collective bargaining for nurses in New Brunswick.

When the province introduced the Extra-Mural hospital, Mrs. Ryan became the first manager of the Bathurst office and assisted in setting up extra mural offices in north eastern New Brunswick. She also sat on the federal healthy Communities project to reduce smoking. In recent years, she was a member of the Le Foyer Nortre-Dame-de-Lourdes Foundation and the Casavant Organ Restoration Committee in Bathurst.

Mrs. Ryan is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her devotion to preserving the heritage of the Chaleur Region and for her dedication to her profession and the health and well being of all its residents.


Donald Savoie, O.C., Moncton




Renowned as a researcher, scholar and author, Dr. Donald Savoie is also known far and wide as Canada’s foremost expert on public administration.  Yet throughout Eastern Canada, he is equally well known and respected as a champion behind the progress of New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada.

Currently holding the Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance, Savoie is the Clement-Cormier Chair in Economic Development and a professor of public administration at l’Université de Moncton. 

Born and raised in Bouctouche, Savoie has written and co-written more than 40 books on a range of topics.  These include the Acadian experience, including his own, in New Brunswick; power and politics in Canada; public policy; and public administration.

Owing to his expertise in these areas, Savoie has often been asked to serve as an adviser to various individuals, institutions and governments.  To date, he has given counsel to federal, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies; the private sector; independent associations; the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; the World Bank; and the United Nations.

In Eastern Canada, Savoie played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in the late 1980s.  He also founded of the Canadian Institute for Research on Regional Development at l’Université de Moncton in 1983; served as chairperson of the New Brunswick Right to Information and Protection of Personal Information Review Task Force; and served as co-chair of a task force on the future of electricity in New Brunswick.

On account of his vast knowledge and impartial perspectives, Savoie continues to have a significant influence in matters of public policy development in our province, region and country.  His work has garnered him many prestigious awards and honours, including his membership as an Officer in the Order of Canada and as a Fellow of the Royal Society. 

Donald Savoie is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his many contributions to the field of public administration, political science, economics and governance in New Brunswick and the Atlantic region.