2023 Skills Excellence Awards

On the evening of December 7th, Skills Canada–Nova Scotia (SCNS) held the annual end-of year celebration – the Skills Excellence Awards. Each year we welcome our volunteers, alumni, partners and friends of the organization to join us as we reflect on the success of our year, recognize individuals that go above and beyond in support of our organization, and say thank you to the many people and organizations that continue to support us. 

This year’s Skills Excellence Awards was a special one as it marked the organization’s 25th anniversary. SCNS Program Manager, Laura King began the evening by taking the audience on a trip through time – back to 1998 when our organization was founded. After a brief recap of the past, she transitioned to the present and– the annual “year in review” recapping the successes of the competitors, our organizational achievements, and highlighting the individuals that have helped us along the journey. 

After the year in review, we welcomed three guest speakers: NSCC President – Don Bureaux, Directice Generale for French Language Programs at the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development – Mary Chisholm, and finally on behalf of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, CEO Michelle Bussey. Their time, words of inspiration and support for the organization are greatly appreciated.  

Congratulations to our annual award winners: This year we celebrated two amazing award winners. 

Volunteer of the Year – Steven Stewart  

In the spirit of the 25th anniversary, this year’s recipient of the Skills Excellence Award for Volunteer of the Year has been involved with Skills Canada – Nova Scotia in one way or another since the beginning. When it comes to volunteers that are living this organization’s mission, Steven Stewart, Welding Faculty at the NSCC Akerley Campus has been helping, teaching, and volunteering to share his skills with our organization for 23 years.  

Most recently, Steven volunteered with SCNS at the provincial, national, and international levels, as a member of both the provincial and national technical committees for competitions. Steve also set time aside to coach Abilympics Team Canada member Alishia McCrae as she represented Canada at the 2023 International Abilympics in Metz, France securing a bronze medal in the process. Alishia, who nominated Steven for the award, said “Steve goes the extra mile by supporting you even outside of Skills NS, like providing guidance and comfort during times of anxiety and distress, which really speaks to his character as a caring individual. Meeting Steve is an unforgettable experience, and his dedication and impact embody the essence of what a volunteer is all about.”  

Congratulations Steven Stewart – 2023 Volunteer of the Year!  

Alumni of the Year – Liam Crane  

The award recipient of Alumni of the Year is also no stranger to Skills Canada – Nova Scotia. Having competed with SCNS many times, Red Seal Chef Liam Crane gives his best efforts to everything he is involved in. Whether it’s preparing amazing dishes at Soaring Crane Sushi, the restaurant Liam owns and operates, or helping out SCNS via the Try-A-Trade Take-Out program, Liam is passionate about his trade and sharing his skills with others.  

As a Red Seal Chef, Liam’s individual talent speaks for itself, but at the 2023 International Abilympics, it was Liam’s leadership, maturity, and support for the team every step of the way that proved that his talents stretch beyond the individual. When Liam and Andrew Thorne were paired up for Team Cooking they became instant friends, and that relationship blossomed throughout their practice sessions in the kitchens of Prescott Group and the NSCC Akerley Campus. Prior to leaving for France, Caitlin Kettley, their coach for the competition noted that, “Liam’s leadership with Andrew was really something to observe, his generosity and patience certainly allowed for those two to become comfortable with each other in such a short time.”  

At the competition when the team faced challenges, Liam’s support of his teammate was front and center. SCNS Acting Executive Director Robin Lorway shared the following anecdote as she observed from the sidelines: 

“As with any competition, accidents can happen. Andrew had carefully prepared a batter for scones, but accidentally dropped it onto the floor just before he was ready to cut them. Liam patted him on the back and told him not to worry and mixed together a new batter (all while doing his own food preparation) so that Andrew could continue his tasks. Liam’s sense of calm kept the team together and allowed them to plate something they could be proud of.” 

When asked about it after, Liam said the most important thing to him was to make sure Andrew enjoyed himself. He didn’t want Andrew to get frustrated during his first competition and wanted him to remain confident in his skills. The pair went onto win a bronze medal at the competition. 

Congratulations Liam Crane – 2023 Alumni of the Year!  

Silent Auction 

Our silent auction was a great success, raising more than $2,300 for the Robert Sampson Memorial Bursary, which will help to help to support Team Nova Scotia’s participation and experience in the Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City this spring. Thank you to all the local organizations and businesses for your contributions to the auction. 

The 2023 Skills Excellence Awards was a wonderful way to commemorate our 25th Anniversary! From the entire team here at SCNS, we appreciate everyone who came together to make this event a special one!

*For more images from the Skills Excellence Awards please visit our Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB6SoK