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Scotland Week 2009

Flora MacDonald
Scot of the Year 2009

Flora receives the award from Donald Stewart, last year's recipient.
The actual award was a large specially engraved quaich.

On Tuesday April 7, Toronto's prestigious St. Andrews Club was the venue for the Scottish Studies Society's 17th Annual Scot of the Year Award Presentation.

Hosted by Scottish Development International and Visit Scotland, the evening celebrated Scotland's business and cultural ties with Canada and was one of a number of events taking place all over the United States and Canada all of which centred around Tartan Day which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath on April 6, 1320 -- Scotland’s declaration of independence. We were delighted to have been invited to participate in this event which was also a fundraiser for the Scottish Studies Foundation.

Michael Russell, MSP, the Scottish Government's Minister for Culture, External Affairs and Constitution represented the Government of Scotland and made the official address. Peter Lederer, Chairman of Visit Scotland also spoke about Scotland's plans for "Homecoming 2009" and other events of interest to Canadians wishing to vacation in Scotland.

Throughout the night, award winning Scottish Chef Tom Lewis used great Scottish ingredients to make some fabulous dishes in LIVE cooking demonstrations and in a once only performance in Canada, Scottish musician Roddy Hart performed some of the works of Burns in special interpretations he created for the year of Homecoming.

Also, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Glenfiddich, guests were able to sample some of the finest Scotch available and the Glenfiddich team organized 'Mini Mentor' session where guests learned about Glenfiddich 12, 15, and 18 Year Old malt whiskies.

This year's Scot of the Year Award went to Flora MacDonald, the former cabinet minister who served in the Canadian federal government in the 1970s and 80s. At 82, she is still adding to a travelogue that includes at least 100 countries in her concern for the plight and progress of women in developing countries. (Click here for "Flora's Mission" a CBC video of Flora MacDonald's humanitarian work in Afghanistan.)

Named after the Scottish Jacobite heroine of Bonnie Prince Charlie fame, Flora MacDonald was born in North Sydney, NS, a sixth generation Canadian whose forebears came to Canada from the Scottish Highlands in the 1790s. She was educated in public schools and business college in Nova Scotia. Later she became the first woman enrolled in the National Defence College’s year-long graduate course in international relations.

She was first elected to the Parliament of Canada in October 1972 and served as MP for Kingston and the Islands until November 1988, holding three cabinet posts: Secretary of State for External Affairs, the first woman in Canada to be named to the prestigious Foreign Affairs Minister portfolio; Minister of Employment and Immigration; and Minister of Communications and Culture.

Prior to her election, Flora was administrative assistant and tutor in the political studies department at Queen’s University, and was also employed at the national headquarters of the PC Party of Canada becoming acting national director.

Since leaving politics she has held numerous national and international posts and has served on the board or advisory councils of many organizations. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Companion of the Order of Canada, and a member of the Order of Ontario. She has received the Jordanian El Kawkab Medal by King Hussein for significant contribution to public service; the Pearson Peace Medal; the Churchill Society’s award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy; and was the first Canadian to receive the Padma Shri Award (India’s highest award to civilians) from the President of India for distinguished service in the field of public affairs. She holds honorary degrees from universities in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.

Here is a selection of photographs taken at the event:

Left to right: David Hunter, President Scottish Studies Foundation,
Flora MacDonald and Michael Russell MSP

Michael Russell, Scottish Minister for Culture, External Affairs
and the Constitution addresses everyone present

Peter Lederer, Chairman of Visit Scotland,
Scotland’s national tourism organization

The Scottish Development International team came together from all over North America for the event. Left to right: Kathleen Tepfer, VP, SDI Americas from Boston, Michael Corish, Senior VP from Toronto and Isobel Bell, Assistant VP from Chicago. SDI's support of the Scottish Studies Foundation over the years is greatly appreciated.

Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald and Lady Agnes
(a.k.a. Brian and Renee Porter)

Michael Russell in discussion

Chef Tom Lewis, one of Scotland's foremost culinary experts
-- all the way from the Monachyle Mohr Hotel at Balquhidder

Tom offers samples of his cuisine to University of Guelph's faculty members

Young Canadian Violinists add a Scots-Canadian ambiance to the evening

Click here for videos of last year's event