Faces in the Crowd – Empowering Young Women Around The World

Posted on October 19, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment


“ People in Antigonish believe in equality and equal opportunity.”

Meet Hina Shehzadi.

Hina and her four siblings were born in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan. Her father was an auto mechanic. Their mother never had the opportunity to attend school as a child and wanted better for her children. Getting a good education became a priority.

Lyari was a tough part of the city with violence ever present. Hina witnessed injustices perpetrated on the citizenry including women and children. These experiences motivated her at an early age to want to help those in need.

School became her entire focus. There weren’t a lot of opportunities in the school system for anything other than the basics. Extracurricular activities were non existent.  In High School, Hina took courses in economics, commerce and computers with an eye to an MBA and future employment in a bank.

Upon graduation in 2009, she volunteered with a non profit group to try and get her foot in the door for future employment. This led to a job with a local Women’s Resource Centre where her focus was on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young girls. Her work took her to many rural villages in Pakistan where she quickly discovered that there are always people far worse off than yourself.

In 2011 she decided to do a Masters program. In order to make this happen, she worked at a full time job during the day and took public transportation to the university in the evening. Traveling alone as a woman, late at night was an uncomfortable and unnerving experience. She received a Masters in Sociology in 2013. After completing her studies she accepted a Legislative Fellowship in the United States . Most of the time was spent in North Carolina where she got to see some top notch American universities. The idea of getting a PhD. became a long range goal.

She returned home to continue her work with the Women’s Resource Centre. She traveled to Nepal and Thailand presenting papers and doing research on several aspects of women’s rights. In 2015, she traveled to Montreal, Canada to attend the training done by Equitas. One of the stated objectives of Equitas is “ advancing equality, social justice and respect for human dignity in Canada and around the world, through education. “ While in Montreal she met someone who told her about the Coady Institute in Antigonish.

In 2016, she was accepted into the Diploma program. Having spent most of her life in big cities, the drive from Stanfield airport in the dark of night was somewhat disconcerting. All she could see were trees on either side of the highway. She wondered what she had gotten herself into.

She quickly discovered that for all of the apparent differences between Pakistan and Nova Scotia, the one thing that was similar was that Antigonish was family oriented . She immediately felt welcome and supported by the people at Coady and the broader community. “ People seemed genuinely interested in me and were willing to learn more about me and my country.” She found the Diploma program both practical and useful. One of the highlights of her stay was the awarding of an Awesome Antigonish Foundation grant for “ An International Evening With Coady participants” held at St. James United Church.

But her studies were far from over. Encouraged by Joanne Tompkins, she decided to enroll in the Masters of Education program at St.F.X and began the next chapter of her education in January of 2017. The focus of her thesis is a comparative analysis of curriculums in Nova Scotia and Karachi in regards to attitudes of young women to sexual and bodily rights.

Hina’s long term goal remains the attainment of a PhD. and she would like to end up teaching in Canada.

In Pakistan, most women cannot go out of their homes without a good reason like work or schooling. Her freedom of movement in Antigonish has spurred her into wanting to learn how to ride a bicycle.

This bright, engaging woman from Pakistan has the potential to be a “ global change leader” and improve the lot of young women  across continents.






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Faces in the Crowd – The Best Medicine

Posted on October 5, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with 3 comments


“ Life is complicated enough. Keep things as simple as possible.”

Meet Emerson Dunphy.

Emerson was born in Ingonish in 1922 and at the age of 6 months, the family moved to North Sydney. His grandfather was a boat builder and his dad was a fish plant owner and trader, plying the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, sailing to and from the West Indies trading goods from Canada. His mother was a school teacher.

When he was six months old, the family moved to North Sydney. He and his 3 siblings spent many happy hours skating on the harbor and nearby lakes in the winter time. Emerson attended Sydney Academy and decided to take a year off after completing grade twelve as he wasn’t certain of his future plans. Part of the year was spent on a merchant ship. Sailing became a passion at an early age.

He attended St.F.X University graduating Magna Cum Laude and was awarded the Governor General’s medal. He had thoughts about being a lawyer but after a brief stint in a dark law office after graduation, he decided against this profession.

He was anxious to serve his country and during WW11, he joined the Air Force. He moved around Canada getting the required training and received his wings in Claresholm, Alberta. By the time he completed his training, the war was drawing to a close. On one fateful train trip from Eastern Canada to flying school in Regina, Emerson and two air force buddies discussed career plans after the war. They all decided to pursue medicine.

In 1945, he was back at “X” for two years of pre-med where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He received his medical training at McGill and accepted an Internship in Bridgeport, Conneticut. In 1950, he met a beautiful young woman by the name of Margaret Campbell at St. Mary’s hospital in Montreal. She was studying to become a nurse. They were married in 1952. Their two eldest children were born in the United States. Emerson continued his studies in general surgery and urology.

He received word from a colleague that St. Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish was in desperate need of a second surgeon. At the urging of Dr. Tom Gorman, Emerson came back to Nova Scotia and was thrust immediately into an incredibly busy practice. He and Tom were responsible for 50 surgery beds. The work load was very demanding. Emerson admits that he would do it all over again. He was especially fond of the “ old St. Martha’s “ where there was a great deal of camaraderie amongst all the doctors, nurses and the  staff.

Over a career that spanned 34 years, Emerson saw many notable changes. “ The establishment of a burn unit in Halifax and the introduction of laparoscopic surgery were two major changes during my years of practice.”

Religion has always been a cornerstone of Emerson’s life. Like many Catholic families of that generation, saying the rosary after supper was the norm. From time to time , when the schedule allowed, he would duck into the chapel at the hospital for mass. These days he attends mass on a daily basis. He routinely gets up at 5:00 a.m., something that he has done most of his life.

Besides exercising regularly at home, he plays bridge twice a week and the cribbage board is always on the dining room table for a friendly game with family and friends. He also loves doing crossword puzzles. All of these things have kept his mind active and provided him with company and laughter.

So, what is his secret to longevity? “ I didn’t let stress get the better of me. I have always exercised and was well fed by Margie! And I have had a happy life. I think that being happy helps keep a person healthy. I have also benefited from advances in modern medicine. I have had many operations and have scars from head to toe to prove it! “

He also believes that his faith has given him a solid foundation to meet the challenges which life inevitably throws at all of us.

The death of his beloved Margie and son, Michael were hard on Emerson.

Regarding the state of the world, he feels that improved communication might be the only hope in finding harmony. “ World leaders need to meet face to face and discuss their problems and differences.

This gentleman, with a hint of his Irish ancestry twinkling in his eyes, is blessed with 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

He would probably concur that family and good friends are the best medicine.

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Faces in the Crowd – No Regrets

Posted on September 28, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with 2 comments


“ The reason I moved here was because of the people. The reason I invested here was because of the people. The reason I will stay here is because of the people.”

Meet Lenita Hanson

Lenita Hanson never met a challenge that she didn’t relish. She was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and got her first lessons in work ethic on the family farm in Birch Hills. Her father epitomized the notion of entrepreneurship, trying his hand at many different businesses. He instilled confidence in his children and imbued them with a healthy dose of fearlessness in tackling new things. Lenita took this to heart,  buying and selling cars while still in high school. She sold her first car before she was even licensed to drive!

She also discovered quickly that being in business isn’t always profitable. “ You win some and you lose some. Sometimes the losses are actually wins because of the lessons learned. I recognized at an early age that failure was not to be feared.”  She , like many others, regrets that in an era of “Fair Play” in sports, many young people do not experience failure… sometimes life’s best teacher.

She started her post secondary education studying psychology. After taking a year off, she enrolled in the science program at the University of Saskatchewan with an eye to becoming a forensic scientist. She worked at the Saskatchewan Zoo and then did an internship with the Canadian Wildlife Service. She worked for a biopharmaceutical company for a few years. Through all of these endeavours, she felt that she might find her niche in the area of business development.

From 2002-09, Lenita worked for Star Egg, a Saskatchewan based business specializing in the grading, distribution and marketing of shell eggs. Here she met her first professional mentor ( besides her dad! ). Bert Harman saw her potential and encouraged her at every turn. She took on roles with increasing responsibility and learned a great deal about food safety.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Lenita’s next foray was as the production manager at a restaurant. “ I loved learning new things. Change is great.”

Lenita was always a sports enthusiast. She played a variety of sports and took a shining to ringette at the age of 10, a sport that she played avidly until the age of 18. In her third year at the University of Saskatchewan, she decided to try out for the fledgling women’s hockey team . She had to scramble to find goalie gear, having never played the sport. Some of the equipment came from a pawnshop. She made the squad and a year later, the team attained CIS status. She has maintained lifelong friendships from this group of athletes.

During this time she met someone from Antigonish and was invited to come for a visit. From the moment she stepped outside of the airport in Halifax, she could feel something special. She took an instant liking to Nova Scotia. After her second visit, she returned home and wrote down her three year plan to move to Antigonish, after discussing this with her spouse, Amy Irwin.

She could not believe her good fortune when she saw an ad for a Production Development Manager at Tony’s Meat’s in Antigonish. It was as if the job had been written for her. She accepted the position in 2012 and has been there ever since.  Initially, her focus was on food safety and when Tony’s received its Global Food Safety designation, it opened up a world of new market possibilities.

In 2015, when the opportunity presented itself for an ownership share, Lenita didn’t flinch. She knew it was a well run business and had lots of potential.

In 2014, she and Amy built their dream home “ in the Ohio” with wood milled from local timber.

Not long ago, she made a new acquisition: a tattoo. It contains words to live by.

“ Respect. Love. Forgive. No regrets.”


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