ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha has been honoured for its environmental stewardship.
The Antigonish-based religious order was named Institution of the Year during the annual Divert NS Mobius Awards of Environmental Excellence celebration Oct. 30 in Halifax.
“We are really pleased, so happy things we value and hold as sacred are recognized by others,” congregation representative Sister Donna Brady said.
This honour focused on the congregation’s environmental considerations when it came to the deconstruction of its historic Bethany Motherhouse, which overlooked St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish.
“We wanted to keep as much as possible out of the landfill,” Brady said, noting the process focused on “recycling and reusing.”
Speaking about “our value system,” Brady explained taking such measures reflect their commitment to “sustainability and care of earth.”
For more than two decades, the Mobius Awards have been presented by Divert NS to celebrate and recognize "the achievements of innovative Nova Scotians who are leaders in reducing waste.”
The event webpage said the annual celebration, “brings together Nova Scotia’s environmental elite from businesses, government, organizations and communities across the province.”
Divert NS, a not-for-profit corporation that “helps drive the culture of recycling” in Nova Scotia, operates two recycling programs; beverage container deposit-refund and used tire management program.
It also partners with businesses and other organizations, along with government and academia, “to foster stewardship, fund innovation and educate Nova Scotians, and support municipal waste programs province-wide.”
During the Motherhouse deconstruction process, which took place over several weeks last fall, there was more than 9,000 tonnes of waste — 9004.57 tonnes, to be exact — diverted from the landfill.
Brady noted the congregation, with their partners Dexter Construction, exceeded their diversion target of 85 per cent, while almost hitting the 94 per cent mark.
“We are very proud of that,” she said.
As for the sacrifices related to taking these measures, Brady said the deconstruction process was “more expensive.”
“Emotionally, it also had a cost,” she added.
Rather than their long-time home disappearing in one or two days, the environmentally-conscious process — a painstaking one — meant the Marthas, from their new home next door, Parkland Antigonish, had to watch the Motherhouse “slowly being taken down.”
Brady credits Town of Antigonish Councillor Jack ‘Sam’ MacPherson, and Nicole Haverkort, Eastern Region Solid Waste Management regional waste coordinator/educator, for making and preparing the award application.
She also recognized the congregation’s director of finance Dan Fougere and maintenance director John Doyle for their effort in dealing with the deconstruction team on a day-to-day basis.
As for the importance of the Marthas’ focus on environmental stewardship, Brady said it comes from “awareness that everything is connected.”
The 2019 award recipients were announced via a Facebook Live video with Divert NS chief executive officer Jeff MacCallum and staff members (https://www.facebook.com/DivertNS).
For more information about the Mobius Awards, visit divertmobiusawards.ca.