2021 Nova Scotia Human Rights Award Recipients

photo of four award recipients

(2021 Human Rights Award Recipients, L-R) Dr. Ron Milne, Steven Estey, Geoffrey Stropke on behalf of Dr. Margaret Dechmen), and Andreas Roboinson.

Four Nova Scotians were presented with the 2021 Nova Scotia Human Rights Awards on December 10.

These awards recognize the important work of community organizers, grass-roots advocates, activists, researchers, educators and others who demonstrate a commitment to advancing human rights through their work.

“The presentation of these awards is our opportunity annually to shine a light on the incredible work being done by Nova Scotians advancing the protection and promotion of human rights in our province,” said Joseph Fraser, Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.


“While the Commission administers the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act through the protection and advancement of human rights, this work is only part of the daily effort happening across Nova Scotia to bring equity and inclusion to all. That is why I believe this year’s Human Rights Award recipients deserve to be honored and celebrated. These are unprecedented times, yet their good work continues with resilience, momentum, and impact.”

Four awards were presented in the categories of Youth, Individual and the commemorative Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones Award. An individual award was presented posthumously.

Andreas Robinson of Halifax received the 2021 Human Rights Youth Award, in recognition of his demonstrated passion and commitment to advancing education and awareness of the rights of youth and community.

Dr. Margaret Dechman, formerly of Howie Centre, was awarded a Nova Scotia Human Rights Award posthumously in recognition of her life’s work as an advocate, researcher, and champion for the rights of individuals impacted by poverty, mental health, and addictions throughout Cape Breton.

Steven Estey of Dartmouth received an Individual Award in recognition of exemplary, life-long, and continuous advocacy, education, and leadership in the field of equity and inclusion for persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia, across Canada and internationally.

Dr. Ron Milne of Halifax received the Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones Award in recognition of his commitment to advancing access to equitable healthcare within African Nova Scotian communities.

This event marked the United Nations International Human Rights Day and was live-streamed via the Commission’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. A recording is available below..


About the Recipients

Andreas RobinsonAndreas Robinson

Andreas Robinson is the recipient of the 2021 Human Rights Youth Award, in recognition of his demonstrated passion and commitment to advancing education and awareness of the rights of youth and community. As an entrepreneur, and an authentic youth, and community engagement specialist, Andreas’ areas of leadership include anti-racism, digital, financial, and cultural literacy, and branding. His mission is to empower youth, individuals, and communities to embrace their full potential. Over the past 6 years, through his work as a social impact entrepreneur with his company Infinitus Academy Inc., Andreas has directly impacted and engaged youth, adults and communities through consulting, programming, events and workshops.

Dr. Margaret DechmanMargaret Dechman

Dr. Margaret Dechman was an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of L`nu, Political and Social Studies at Cape Breton University in Sydney. Those she worked with described her as “the most inspiring person they have ever met”, a person who could move a room with her passionate and engaging conversations. “Her research in addictions was instrumental in shifting perceptions and discourses away from pathologizing addictions and toward harm reduction and community-based support for people living with addictions.” Dr. Margaret was a board member of the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, an organization dedicated to combating stigma and offering harm reduction services to individuals living with addiction. Her research contributed to a deeper understanding of the urgent need for flexible, accessible, timely care for individuals with addictions, and led directly to funding and support for organizations and programs serving the community in Cape Breton and throughout Nova Scotia.

Steven EsteySteven Estey

Steven Estey has worked with organizations such as the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Disabled Persons International, human rights institutions, governments, intergovernmental organizations, and United Nations agencies to advance disability rights. Steven was advisor to the Canadian Government delegation to the United Nations, that drafted the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).  From 2007 until 2010 he led Disabled Persons International’s work to encourage governments around the world to sign and ratify the CRPD.  As a consultant, Steven has devoted his life to projects strategically aimed at the effective implementation of the CRPD, the full realization of disability rights and effective implementation of the CRPD around the world. 

Dr. Ron MilneRon Milne

Dr. Ron Milne is a medical doctor who goes above and beyond the call to serve. He is a navigator, an advocate, and an ally to African Nova Scotians, as well as the physician for the Nova Scotia Brotherhood Initiative, a project designed to meet the healthcare needs of African Nova Scotian men. Dr. Milne's contribution and advocacy for Black men's health and the support for the African Nova Scotian community is commendable. He is an advocate on the social determinants of health and the effects they have on the Black community. He has created a safe space and normalized conversations around medical issues that affect black men like prostate cancer, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other conditions. Presently, Dr. Milne is actively advocating for a Sisterhood Initiative to bring the benefits of the Brotherhood model to African Canadian women.

Event Recording