Government of New Brunswick

The names of the recipients of the 2023 Order of New Brunswick were released.

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




Catherine Akagi, deputy mayor of Saint Andrews, or Kate to town residents, is well known for her generosity, insight, empathy and willingness to volunteer, educate and lead whenever needed.

Ms. Akagi was born and raised in Saint Andrews, returning to her hometown to teach after earning her bachelor of education at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She taught at Vincent Massey Elementary School for over 30 years, where she found innovative ways to help students and to incorporate Indigenous, Acadian, and Loyalist crafts into the curriculum.

When she retired from teaching, Ms. Akagi worked with the New Brunswick Community College to co-ordinate services for Indigenous students, creating connections with the community by hosting Indigenous activities. She has built bridges through community gatherings in honour of Sisters in Spirit, National Indigenous People’s Day, and Truth and Reconciliation Day, among others.

Ms. Akagi has served on many community boards and committees in Saint Andrews and Charlotte County and was deputy mayor from 2012-2016 and from 2021 to present. She volunteers as an Indigenous history guide at Ministers Island Heritage Site and has provided her own artifacts for display. She also volunteers with visiting schools throughout the Anglophone South School District, New Brunswick community colleges, Kairos Blanket Exercises and Charlotte County Dial-A-Ride, among others, where she regularly goes above and beyond what is expected.

Ms. Akagi is a longtime member of the Church of Saint Andrew, where she takes part in senior outreach, and she participates in activities at many other churches in the area, as well.

Her dedication to her community as a volunteer, educator and Indigenous liaison is an inspiration to everyone who meets her.

Catherine Akagi is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her outstanding commitment to education, her advocacy for First Nations, and her extraordinary community engagement.




A well-known citizen of Fredericton, Bud Bird has had a successful career as an entrepreneur; has served as an elected political representative at all three levels of government; and has played a leading volunteer role in many community projects.

He was the founder of J.W. Bird and Company Ltd. (Bird-Stairs) 65 years ago in 1958, and has been a director of several New Brunswick and Canadian companies since that time. He was a lead director of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick when that distribution franchise was awarded in 1999, and he was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame in 2011.

With his late wife Peggy, the Bird family has contributed generously to many charitable causes, and were the second recipients of the Philanthropy in Action Award from the Fredericton Community Foundation.

As mayor of Fredericton from 1969 to 1974, Mr. Bird helped to bring about amalgamation with several surrounding municipalities. He also worked to increase awareness and appreciation for the values of bilingualism and cultural diversity, with the goal for Fredericton to be seen clearly as the capital city for all New Brunswickers.

During his term as minister of natural resources from 1978 to 1982, Mr. Bird was able to successfully steer, with unanimous support, an innovative Crown Lands and Forests Act through the legislature, one that has become recognized as a model for crown forest management. As minister, he also introduced the concept of harvest tagging for the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon, as well as hook-and-release practices that continue to this day.

In 1994, following his five-year term as a member of Parliament, Mr. Bird accepted a volunteer role to help create the Greater Fredericton Economic Development Corporation for the promotion of economic activity among all the municipalities in the capital city area. It resulted in several successful initiatives, including creation of the Knowledge Park in partnership with the University of New Brunswick (UNB).

For many subsequent years, he has served terms as president and chairman of the Miramichi Salmon Association, and as a director of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Arising from his conservation activities, and in partnership with the late Chief Noah Augustine of Metepenagiag, Mr. Bird was a co-founder of the First Nations and Business Liaison Group, a forum active for several years in pursuit of reconciliation and goodwill. In 2004 he was presented with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation.

Previously recognized as a Distinguished Citizen by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Bird also received an honorary degree from UNB in 1987, and was appointed as an officer in the Order of Canada in 2001.

J.W. Bud Bird is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his lifetime of business, political and charitable activities which have contributed meaningfully to New Brunswick and to Canada.




Originally from Bouctouche, Isabelle McKee-Allain is an activist committed to the advancement of francophone and Acadian women, and a pioneer in sociology, who has dedicated over 40 years to promoting equality and social justice.

A graduate of the Université de Moncton, Université Laval and the Université de Montréal, Ms. McKee-Allain pursued a career as a sociology professor at the Université de Moncton. In 1996, she became the institution’s first woman to be named dean, initially of the faculty of social sciences and then of the new faculty of arts and social sciences in 2001.

She has authored or co-authored more than 50 local, national and international publications regarding Acadian society. Focusing mainly on women, the education system and religious communities, her writing and research have contributed to the development of Acadian and francophone minority society.

She has been on and worked with several committees and organizations promoting equality and social justice, including the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women; the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities; the editorial boards of Recherches féministes and the Égalité political analysis review; the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity; the Université de Moncton’s Bureau de direction du Sénat académique; and various committees for the vice-president of teaching and research, including committees on health, studies and linguistic minorities. She was also a founding member of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick.

In her retirement, Ms. McKee-Allain has continued dedicating her time to several community organizations, such as the Salon du Livre de Dieppe, the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, the Marichette Foundation and the Fondation du théâtre l’Escaouette. In addition, in 2020, she was recognized by the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick as one of the women who have contributed to the advancement of gender equality in New Brunswick. She was also recognized by the Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne as a leader, by the City of Dieppe as a remarkable and outstanding volunteer and, most recently, by the Fondation du Collège Saint-Joseph as a distinguished alumna for her contribution to the modernization of Acadie.

She and her husband, Greg Allain, live in Dieppe and have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Isabelle McKee-Allain is receiving the Order of New Brunswick in recognition of her profound commitment and exceptional career as a professional dedicated to the advancement of women’s equality, social justice and francophone and Acadian culture in New Brunswick.




Joanne McLeod, who was born in Woodstock and lived in Canterbury during her childhood, is a lawyer and activist. She is known as the first paraplegic to graduate from the University of New Brunswick (UNB), having received her first degree there before graduating from the UNB faculty of law. After her law degree, she joined the Department of Justice and, after three years, became the first woman to be appointed as deputy registrar of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

In the 1960s, Ms. McLeod approached the mayor of Fredericton about introducing curb cuts to sidewalks; they started to appear throughout the city, making it possible for people in wheelchairs to get from one sidewalk to another without any assistance. Over time, those curb cuts have become the norm for sidewalk construction in all cities. During this time, Ms. McLeod also contacted the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton to install ramps from the main floor to others, which also, over time, have become the norm in public buildings.

In 1965, Ms. McLeod was appointed executive director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), New Brunswick Division, becoming the first woman to hold that position within the CPA federation. From the late 1970s to mid 1990s she served as legal counsel for the Human Rights Commission. As executive director of the CPA, and as a lawyer, Ms. McLeod continued to be active in supporting the rights of people with disabilities and promoting the adoption of accessibility and inclusion principles by the City of Fredericton, by the government of New Brunswick and across Canada.

She has received the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, an honorary doctor of social sciences degree from the Université de Moncton, an Individual Human Rights Achievement Award from the International Association of Human Rights Agencies, and several other awards of excellence.

Joanne E. McLeod is receiving the Order of New Brunswick in recognition of her lifelong dedication to improving conditions for paraplegics and other people with mobility impairments. For more than 60 years she has been a champion and pioneer in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities within her community, the province and the country.




Originally from Grande-Digue, for over 65 years Bernard Poirier has contributed to the flourishing of the francophone communities of Fredericton, Moncton and Dieppe in the economic, cultural and social sectors.

Since 1959, this volunteer community builder has worked with more than 80 committees and organizations as a member, as well as an initiator, founder, president, secretary and treasurer.

In 1968, when Mr. Poirier was the editor-in-chief of the Acadian francophone newspaper l’Évangéline, he accepted a position as an employee of the government of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Upon his arrival, he soon realized there was a lack of services and activities for the francophone community of the capital city of the only officially bilingual province in the country. He made it his mission to take an active role in helping to remedy the situation by chairing several committees within the community.

The project he is most proud of is the opening of the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne (CCSA) in Fredericton. Owing to the work of various committees, the support of the provincial government of the time, and the co-operation of the anglophone school district in the area, the centre opened in 1978. A few years later, the local community recognized the dedication of this tireless volunteer by naming the theatre in the CCSA the Bernard Poirier Theatre.

Mr. Poirier also defended the rights of New Brunswick francophones as director of official languages for the New Brunswick government from 1974 to 1990.

Upon his return to Moncton, after semi-retirement in 1991, he enthusiastically continued his volunteer work. At 90 years of age, this inspiring man is still engaged as a member, president or secretary-treasurer of several committees and organizations.

He has received numerous recognitions and awards over the years for his work and accomplishments, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilee Medals. He was also named a member of the Order of Canada in 1980 and officer of the Order of the Pléiade in 1992.

Bernard Poirier is receiving the Order of New Brunswick in recognition of his enthusiasm, dedication, and exceptional support of a dynamic francophone cultural and community life and the protection of the rights of the province’s francophones.