Sister Nancy Brown awarded honour for work with abused youth
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic
Caption: Sister Nancy Brown (centre) smiles during her investment ceremony. She is flanked by Premier Christy Clark and Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point. Sister Brown is the pastoral counsellor and ombudsman at Covenant House. Government of British Columbia / Special to The B.C. Catholic
The Sisters of Charity of Halifax now proudly call one of their own a recipient of the highest civilian honour for merit in the province. Sister Nancy Brown, the pastoral counsellor at Covenant House, was formally invested in the Order of British Columbia (OBC) by Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point at Government House in Victoria in September.
"I'm happy to receive this on behalf of religious women. I was surprised initially," said Sister Brown.
She was nominated by Covenant House in recognition of her dedication to assisting women and homeless youth, as well as battling against the twin evils of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
"The issues I've been working on are issues most people are not comfortable with," she stated. "If this award brings greater awareness to those issues, then I'm happy with it."
"Congratulations on the appointment; it was a pleasure and an honour to deliver this news on behalf of the Advisory Council of the OBC," commented Karen Felker, the coordinator of the Honours and Awards Secretariat for the provincial government.
The OBC is awarded to members of the B.C. public who have demonstrated a high level of individual excellence and achievement in any field. Instituted in 1989 by former Lieutenant-Governor David Lam, the award is the highest honour conferred by the provincial Crown. It replaced the Order of the Dogwood.
Since 1998, one year after Covenant House was founded, Sister Brown has been the pastoral counsellor. She also serves as ombudsman, a position in which youth can call upon her to advocate for them. Her slate is full, since she also provides pastoral care by visiting youth in hospital.
She said over 80 per cent of the youth at Covenant House have been abused. "They've lost trust not just from adults, but from society."
In order to rebuild their lives, she tries to call the youth to responsibility and accountability. If the young people she deals with "know that we care about them, then that's what counts."
While shelter beds, semi-independent bachelor apartments, and scholarship programs for post-secondary education are provided for a number of youth, she warned this does not mean the young people under her mentorship are not held to a high moral standard.
"The youth have always felt grateful to have Sister Nancy on the team," remarked Krista Thompson, the executive director of Covenant House. She added, "That the province has chosen to honour Sister Nancy is an acknowledgement of a woman who has worked tirelessly."
"The province is acknowledging that we do great work here. It's putting the stamp of approval on what Covenant House is doing," concluded Sister Brown.