Community Leadership Award

The Community Development Leadership award is given annually to recognize an outstanding person who has demonstrated exceptional commitment, competence and success over time in building community capacity through local, provincial and/or regional activities and organizations. This work embodies an asset-based approach that facilitates and/or develops community resources to work toward social justice, active and healthy lifestyles and/or community sustainability.



Ingrid Blais

Ingrid Blais received the 2018 annual Community Leadership Award for her outstanding contributions to asset based community development. Ingrid has been a member of L'Arche in Canada since 1984. After graduating from the world renown, University College Dublin, Ingrid worked for a rural based Care Agency supporting people with developmental disabilities. In 1984 she spent a year as a volunteer with L'Arche community in Edmonton.  That year stretched to 14 years in L'Arche Edmonton.  In 1998 she was asked to take the position of Executive Director/Community Leader for L'Arche Homefires in Wolfville, NS., and she spent 20 years in the role. Ingrid is grateful to have lived in Wolfville; to witness a growing awareness and acceptance of the reality that every person has a right to belong, to be respected and to be a contributing member of their local community.

The L'Arche Homefires community operates five homes, three day programs, and an Independent Living Support Program, supporting adults with developmental disabilities in the Wolfville area. Ingrid has been key to its growth and contributions and relationships with the wider community over the years including the purchase and large renovation of as former church hall to become a new multi-purpose centre for Homefires and the wider community. It cost nearly 3 million dollars and it was a total community effort to raise the funds with Ingrid at the lead.


Linda Best

Linda Best has been in the forefront of the movement in Nova Scotia for more than a decade, supporting small-scale and sustainable agriculture for the benefit of farmers, the community, the local economy and the environment. She is the co-founder and guiding force as a full-time volunteer behind FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited, a ground-breaking Community Economic Development Investment Fund, a one of a kind in Canada. To date FarmWorks has raised $2,225,000 and has granted over 85 loans to food-related businesses across Nova Scotia. She also founded Friends of Agriculture in NS and to organize the 2009 and 2016 Nova Scotia Food Summits that brought together over 200 people to foster greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities in Nova Scotia’s food system. Friends of Agriculture in NS puts on the gourmet yearly local dinner entitled April Flavours, the proceeds from which go to supporting education and advocacy efforts for the local food movement.


Peggy Hope Simpson

Peggy has been a community activist, innovator and organizer in areas such as peace and security, education, agriculture, health care, social housing, and women issues for more than a half century. In 1959, Peggy was a founding member of the Voice of Women, which mushroomed to 10,000 members across the country within a year. Its work was to advocate for peace and common security in the face of injustice, the oppression of women and the insecurity of the Cold War. She was a prominent and long standing activist in the peace movement through to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s. She worked with several others to spearhead a 1984 vote in which Wolfville became a nuclear weapons free zone. Among other roles, Peggy who is a trained nurse, worked many years for the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses), was a founding member of the Kings Environmental Group in the 1980s, a dedicated volunteer with the food committee of Ecology Action Centre, and an advocate for social housing for seniors. Peggy ran for the NDP for parliament in 1984, though she disagreed with NDP defense policy of the time, and went onto play an important role in shifting it to a common security framework in the late 1980s. Peggy’s positive contributions to our community and the world have been vast and diverse over so many years. An interesting reflection on her life and roles in the peace movement can be found here.


Cari Patterson

Cari Patterson is director of Horizons Community Development Associates in Canning, Nova Scotia and has worked to support a multitude of organizations and governments in the County over many years including Annapolis Valley Health, Chrysalis House, the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, and local First Nations, to name just a few. Horizons worked with the County of Kings on an “Action Plan for Eliminating Racism and Discrimination.” Beyond the local area, Cari has worked with a range of provincial and federal government departments and served as a board member of the International Association for Community Development. She was instrumental in helping to develop a partnership between the Community Leadership and Development program at the University of Kentucky and Acadia, which has resulted in a number of a faculty and student exchanges and much cross pollination of knowledge and skills. Cari brings such a positive and supportive energy to everyone she works with and everything she does that inevitably people feel stronger and more able to accomplish things as a result.