Government of New Brunswick

The names of the recipients of the 2017 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




Measha Brueggergosman is a world-renowned soprano and a singer with rare gifts and intensity bringing fresh interpretations to opera, jazz and gospel. Her artistic performances have earned high praise both in Canada and internationally.

She began her musical journey by singing in the choirs of her local church and elementary school and started voice training at age seven. In 1999, she earned a Bachelor of Music at the University of Toronto and then moved to Dusseldorf, Germany where she earned a Masters of Music from Robert Schumann Hochschule.

She has worked with many of the finest national and international orchestras, and has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, among many others.

Brueggergosman has received many national and international awards including the Grand Prize at the 2002 Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition,and prizes at the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition in London, the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo, and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich. She is a recipient of the prestigious Canada Council and Chalmers Performing Arts grants. “Surprise,” her first recording with Deutsche Grammophon, won the 2008 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year.

She has participated in numerous special events including the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill, the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, and a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2007, she became the Goodwill Ambassador for the African Medical & Research Foundation, a charity working for better health in Africa.

Throughout her prestigious career and worldwide travel, she has openly appreciated her Atlantic Canadian origins, promoting our unique cultural landscape and maritime artistic communities.

Measha Brueggergosman is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her achievements in the performing arts and for her contributions to the music community and industry in New Brunswick.





Normand Caissie, 64, has been a resident of Richibucto for the past 59 years, born into a family of entrepreneurs, with both his father and grandfather having established and led successful businesses in the Kent County area.

After graduating from the Université de Moncton in 1975 with a degree in Business Administration and having held positions in the banking world, as well as with a spirit’s distillery, he started Imperial Manufacturing Group with only four employees in Richibucto.  Over the last 38 years, he has grown the business from a four-man duct and sheet metal operation to a world-class manufacturing company that employs 1,000 people, the majority of whom are local.  The organization creates a variety of HVAC and building products, has eight locations across Canada and the United States, and is a Platinum Member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.  Mr. Caissie is also actively involved in commercial real estate with his company M. A. Commercial Properties, which holds a property portfolio in excess of 715,000 square feet located in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.

Mr. Caissie understands and recognizes New Brunswick’s competitive advantage, which has helped him grow his business and compete on an international scale.  Through his ongoing support of the Wallace McCain Institute and his work with the New Brunswick Business Council, he has proven himself to be an avid supporter of new businesses and young entrepreneurs in the province.

His business prowess has been recognized by various organizations.  He was the recipient of the Atlantic Canada Entrepreneurship award, twice named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, received the Business of the Year award from the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick, and was awarded Alumnus of the Year and received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the Université de Moncton.  In 2010, he was inducted into the Canadian Hardware & Houseware Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was inducted into the Junior Achievement New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame.

Normand Caissie is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his outstanding work in the economic development of his community and the province of New Brunswick.





In 2001, Susan Chalmers-Gauvin decided to fulfill her dream of having a professional ballet company in New Brunswick. Her passion and vision to implement this cultural institution are the primary reasons why New Brunswickers can today enjoy wonderful  world class professional performances by the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada (ABTC). Based in Moncton, this is the only professional ballet company east of Montreal.

Ms. Chalmers-Gauvin is a visionary, who promotes strong links between the arts and the economy, thereby enhancing the economic potential of our province as well as our cultural diversity and artistic excellence on stages worldwide. Atlantic Ballet performs regularly across Canada and the United States and frequently presents its repertoire in France, Belgium and Germany.

Ms. Chalmers-Gauvin has expanded the ABTC to embrace children and youth through several innovative programmes including Ballet in the Schools, promoting  physical literacy for Kindergarten children, and Arts after School. Her newly established Centre for Cultural Education reaches out and embraces young children dreaming of a professional career in the performing arts.  

The ballet “Ghosts of Violence” has been performed for schools and college audiences across Canada and has been instrumental in spreading the important message about intimate partner/dating violence to students.

Prior to the ABTC, she formed her own company to support New Brunswick indigenous communities in the development of health care services, as well as family resource centres and community action programs for children across Atlantic Canada. She was also the provincial director of homecare for the Canadian Red Cross.

Ms. Chalmers-Gauvin has been widely recognized for her achievements, having received an honourary LLD from the University of New Brunswick and an Export Success Award. She has also been named a Top CEO by Atlantic Business Magazine; one of Canada’s  100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network; YMCA Women of Excellence Award; a Champion of Cultural Diversity by the New Brunswick Multicultural Council and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award.

Susan Chalmers-Gauvin is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her passion and vision in creating Atlantic Canada’s first professional ballet company thereby enhancing our economic potential as well as our cultural diversity and artistic excellence.





The Honorable Erminie J. Cohen is a renowned and respected social justice activist who has worked tirelessly for decades to improve the social and economic wellbeing of New Brunswick’s most vulnerable citizens.

Erminie J. Cohen began her longstanding career in advocacy and poverty reduction early in life, sitting on numerous boards and committees as a member of Saint John’s Jewish community. In 1978 she was appointed to the first New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women and as a result she founded the non-profit organization “Saint John Women for Action,” a platform that would lead to the creation of a local shelter for abused women and children. Ms. Cohen also served on the National Advisory Council on the Status of Women and was a founding board member of Hestia House, which offers shelter to abused women and their children in a secure setting.

In 1993, Ms. Cohen was appointed to the Senate of Canada. Representing the senatorial division of Saint John, she would quickly become known for her compassion, activism and poverty reduction publications, fighting to prohibit discrimination based on social conditions under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

After concluding her work as a senator, Ms. Cohen went on to become one of the founders and Chairs of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation (NBAF). Under her guidance, the NBAF was able to increase the number of children adopted out of the province's care system by 100 per cent, giving the movement spirit and helping more than 1000 children find their “forever families” and permanent homes.

Among her numerous awards are the Order of Canada, the Red Cross Humanitarian Award, , the Salvation Army’s Humanitarian Award, the Queen’s Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and most recently she was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship. She also holds an Honorary Doctorate from of Laws from the University of New Brunswick (Saint John).

Ms. Cohen has served on countless committees and boards, including the National Capital Commission in Ottawa, the Saint Joseph’s Hospital Board of Trustees, Hestia House, the Human Development Council and she has also served as Chair of the Opera House of New Brunswick. She continues to serve as an active volunteer in her community at 91 years old and is an inspiration to all she meets.

Erminie J. Cohen is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her outstanding impact on adoption, her dedication and commitment to volunteerism, and her compassion in helping change the lives of New Brunswick’s most vulnerable citizens.





Richard J. Currie is highly regarded for his generosity in supporting numerous causes in New Brunswick, and for devoting his time, energy and leadership skills toward improving the community, the province and the country.

In 1955, he began his studies in chemical engineering as a Beaverbrook Scholar at the University of New Brunswick. After graduation, he became the refining superintendent for the Atlantic Sugar Refineries in Saint John. He left to complete his MBA at Harvard.  In 1972 he joined Loblaws as a Vice-President, becoming Executive Vice-President in 1974, and President in 1976. For 25 years, he worked to build Loblaw’s into the largest food retailer in Canada. Dr. Currie has acted as a corporate director for many of Canada’s most prominent organizations and in 2002 Bell Canada Enterprises named him chair of its board of directors.

In addition to his business career, Dr. Currie has served on the boards of many educational, charitable and cultural institutions.He has received many awards for his contribution to these institutions including Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year. He was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and was  named one of Canada’s 10 greatest Chief Executives of all-time by the Globe & Mail. he, In 2015 he received the  New Brunswick Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Since 2004, he has been an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Currie’s contributions to the economic and social well-being of our province go far beyond his professional career. Most notably, he has demonstrated outstanding support and advocacy for the University of New Brunswick. In May 2003, he became UNB’s fifth modern-day Chancellor. That same year, he enhanced the Blake-Kirkpatrick renewable undergraduate scholarships (now called the Currie Scholarships), making them among Canada’s most valuable. He was also the driving force and primary funder of the Currie Center on the UNB Fredericton campus – a building opened in 2011 for varsity sports, physical health and recreation for New Brunswickers and a special place for graduations.  In 2014, he helped repair and refurbish the historic King’s Square Bandstand in his hometown of Saint John.  In 2017, he built the abstract, modern and contemporary gallery – the Gallery on the Green – within the expanded Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Richard J. Currie is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his dedication to and significant support of our cultural institutions and public education.





Born in Finland and residing in Trout Brook near Miramichi, Captain Ray Kokkonen, C.D., is a decorated Canadian Forces Veteran who served for 38 years before becoming a full-time volunteer for Veterans advocacy and the sport of biathlon.

Since retiring in 1996, Mr. Kokkonen has worked tirelessly on behalf of Veterans. Currently the president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA), he has universally been recognized as the driving force behind the CPVA’s longevity and success.  Additionally, he is a highly active member of the Royal Canadian Legion and a member of a Ministerial Advisory Group for Veterans Affairs Canada.

In addition to Veterans advocacy, Mr. Kokkonen has played an extraordinary role in promoting the sport of biathlon in New Brunswick. Having served in the International Biathlon Union for 34 years in elected senior functions, currently as the Auditor, and having been a top-level official at nine Olympic Games, he was the president of Biathlon Canada for two terms, and has been the president of Biathlon New Brunswick for 17 years. His passion and dedication to the sport as an athlete, administrator and expert have helped to create and sustain New Brunswick’s biathlon community. As examples, he has acquired many major events for Charlo, NB, including four Canadian Championships, which have had a significant economic spin-off for the community and has trained hundreds of biathlon officials in the province.

Mr. Kokkonen’s long lists of achievements include his inductions as a Builder into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame and the Sports Officials Canada Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the Government of Canada Certificate of Merit and was awarded the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation and the Veterans Ombudsman’s Commendation. The Diamond Jubilee Medal was given to him at the inaugural presentation for significant contributions to the Canadian Forces and Veterans.  He has also been awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 Medal.

Mr. Kokkonen is known for his leadership, expertise, diligence, mentorship and focus. Raimo Kokkonen is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his exemplary volunteer work, his commitment to the advancement of biathlon in the province, and for his outstanding service in support of Veterans.





For more than 50 years, Donat Lacroix, has been expressing on stage the dreams, realities and concerns, of Acadians and the people of New Brunswick. The power and poetry of his songs, the authenticity of his lyrics, and the unique and sincere relationship he has built with audiences throughout our province and beyond have made him a proud ambassador of Acadian culture and an inspiration for all.

Mr. Lacroix has sung before thousands of people across Canada, the United States and Europe. Over five decades as a singer-songwriter, he has put on more than 1,000 performances around the world and has composed more than 100 songs, some of which have become powerful anthems for Acadians. M. Lacroix sings about Acadie, the sea, fishing and the people within his region. His songs are part of the Acadian heritage and, as their creator, he is as well.

For the past 55 years he has taken part in the Festival Acadien de Caraquet. A pioneer of Acadian song, he wrote the music and lyrics of the festival’s theme song, “C’est fête au royaume du poisson!”

In 2008 he was named Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the promotion of Acadian culture and traditions through his songs and poetry and he is a recipient of the Stompin’ Tom Award from the East Coast Music Association for his outstanding contribution to music. He is also the recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal and the Diamond Jubilee Medal bestowed by the Governor General of Canada.

Alongside these impressive achievements, M. Lacroix has pursued an academic career, playing a key role in adult French education in New Brunswick and he has worked as a professional fisherman for more than 40 years.

Donat Lacroix is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Acadian and Francophone culture and tradition through his music.





Dr. Michael Perley is a dedicated and passionate family physician who has spent his career championing the rights and interests of First Nations’ communities while promoting and improving healthcare in rural New Brunswick.

In 1980, Dr. Perley was the first member of the First Nation’s community to graduate from medical school in Atlantic Canada. After graduation, he returned to New Brunswick where he began providing the much needed services of a family physician to the community of Tobique First Nation and surrounding areas. Initially working out of a two-room office, the practice soon flourished under his mentorship, and today has grown into the Negotkuk Wellness Center, a nationally recognized institution employing a diverse staff of health-care professionals including nurses, community health workers, and clerical support staff.  

Devoting his time to two First Nation communities, Dr. Perley is also an esteemed family medicine educator and practitioner. Under his guidance, many young physicians have experienced the satisfaction that comes from practicing medicine in close-knit rural communities.

Whether on the front lines of his medical practice or behind the scenes advising on health programming, Dr. Perley has spent 30 years saving lives, breaking down barriers and improving Canada’s healthcare system. He sits on several national committees including the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association, the National Diabetes Surveillance Committee, and the Federal Pharmacy, Therapeutic and Utilization Committee. In 2012, he was named Family Physician of the Year, by the Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association, and has served as the President for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick.

Dr. Michael Perley is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his contributions to the province’s medical community and for advancing the interests of First Nation communities in the province and across the country.





With his exemplary and impressive record as a businessman, Léopold Thériault is a great builder and philanthropist and an outstanding leader in steel-structure manufacturing.

Over the years, beginning at the young age of 13, M. Thériault began to climb the long ladder to success, and today, with more than 50 years of experience behind him, he is an acknowledged expert in the steel industry in Canada. His company, with more than 150 full-time and nearly 100 seasonal employees, has also earned an international reputation, having taken on projects in multiple countries worldwide.  

Much more than a skilled businessman, M. Thériault is also a generous benefactor who takes an active part in his community’s economic, social and cultural development. Over the last 10 years, he has offered financial support to more than 60 organizations in various sectors such as health, sports and recreation, the arts, culture and community aid. Although he has supported every aspect of community life through his contributions, he has always had a special interest in sports and youth.

Over the course of his career, M. Thériault has earned numerous awards and honourary distinctions including the New Brunswick Heritage Day Outstanding Citizen Award, Company of the Year Award from the Association des gens d’affaires du Grand Tracadie Inc., Business of the Year award from the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick, Lauriers de la PME Awards in the rural development category and he has been named Ambassador of the town of Tracadie-Shelia.

He has also earned recognition in the post-secondary education sector, being named to the Ordre des Régents et Régentes of the Université de Moncton and he has been made a lifetime member of the Université de Moncton Shippagan Campus and the Alumni Association. In 2013, M. Thériault was awarded an honourary doctorate in engineering.

M. Thériault always mentions his 4 chidren’s involvement in the family’s businesses, their work ethics and by the way,  that he has 7 grand-children and 1 great-grand-child. He also recognizes the contribution of his ex-wife Alma, mother of Donald, Serge and Berthe, and Lisette Maltais, mother of Gabrielle.

Léopold Thériault is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his outstanding leadership in steel-structure manufacturing and for his legendary generosity, community engagement and commitment to youth.