This award is given each year in memory of Brother Alex MacDonald, former Secretary-Treasurer and chair of the Education Committee, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. Alex believed that education for workers is an important part of building the labour movement in Nova Scotia. He believed that literacy and upgrading are union issues and should be addressed with a collective union vision. He also believed that organized labour should play a central role in the development of programs that would empower workers.

Alex was instrumental in developing a partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Education to promote workplace education programs in unionized work sites. The work started by Brother MacDonald continues today with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour actively promoting workplace education. Our hard work is reaping benefits; the Department of Education reports that 60% of the workplaces offering upgrading programs are unionized.

When Brother Alex MacDonald passed away suddenly in 2001, the Nova Scotia Department of Education announced that it would give an annual award that honoured his role as an ambassador of workplace education. The award is given to a union member who makes a “significant contribution to the labour movement through his or her involvement with workplace education.”