Recipients of Red Triangle Awards announced, tickets on sale now for gala in May

SAINT JOHN, NB — The YMCA of Greater Saint John has announced the details of the 2022 Red Triangle Award Gala, as well as the recipients of the Red Triangle and Leader to Watch Awards.

The Annual Red Triangle Award Gala, presented by Emera New Brunswick, will be held on Thursday, May 26 at the Irving Oil Field House. The Red Triangle Award recognizes long and meritorious service, outstanding contributions and achievement in the community, while the Leader to Watch Award honours an individual who is a role model for other young adults in our community.

“Emera New Brunswick would like to offer our sincere congratulations to this year’s award recipients,” said Emera New Brunswick General Manager Ryan O’Hara. “Your commitment and service to the community has made a tremendous difference to many people. Emera New Brunswick is proud to be part of this community and proud to be part of the Red Triangle Awards. The YMCA has been leading our community for many years, and through this event, they also help recognize the leadership of others.”

The Red Triangle volunteer review committee received numerous nominations this year and had a difficult choice but in the end were unanimous in their decision. This year’s Red Triangle Award recipient is Juanita Black and taking home the Leader to Watch Award is Nicole Vair.

Juanita is well known for her voice as a poverty advocate, working together with others to bring about change at the local, provincial and national levels. She has dedicated her life to being a volunteer leader in her neighbourhood, a mentor in her community and a champion at the provincial and federal level to promote fairness, justice and a better quality of life for all. She illustrates the power of the voice of lived experience and the power of one working with others to bring about change.

“When I received the call that I would be the recipient of this year’s Red Triangle Award, I was overwhelmed with pride and happiness,” said Juanita. “First, just to have my name nominated was an honour in itself. Now, to have my name engraved beside other past recipients is another honour.

“I have volunteered in my community of Crescent Valley, and the city for many years and I could not have done this without the support of my family, my community and partners. I am very humbled and proud of the recognition that goes along with this prestigious award.”

Nicole’s desire to help people and make a difference in her community is evident in everything that she does. She has demonstrated her leadership skills through her work experiences and volunteer activities. Anyone that has had the opportunity to be in Nicole’s inner circle feels welcomed, accepted, and appreciated. She is a role model that leads by example.

“This means so much and I am very thankful for the opportunities the Y has provided me to grow and develop both personally and professionally,” said Nicole. “The mentorship I have received through the Y inspires me to give back and contribute to my community.”  

The recipients will receive their awards at the 32nd Red Triangle Award Gala on Thursday, May 26.  Funds raised at this event will support the Strong Communities Campaign, ensuring that YMCA programs are accessible to everyone.

“We are thrilled to be honouring such dedicated and community-focused individuals,” said Shilo Boucher, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Saint John. “For 32 years, The Red Triangle Awards have been about celebrating people in the Greater Saint John area who make a difference in the lives of others; role models that lead by example. Juanita Black and Nicole Vair are making a difference in our community every day.”

Tickets for the Red Triangle Award Gala are $125 each and are on sale now at the Saint John Regional Y and will be available online at


Additional information on the award recipients


Juanita Black

Juanita’s community involvement began as a young adult. In Grade 12, she was president of the student council at Simonds High School. In 1974, the year she graduated, she discovered she was pregnant. Her experience as a young single mother living in poverty has been a big inspiration to give back.

Juanita has been a proud resident of Crescent Valley. She is never afraid to speak to politicians, write letters to the editor, make public presentations, serve on committees and talk with others about what her neighbourhood and others need.

Juanita works with others to build community, encouraging residents to come together, whether through the Crescent Valley Community Tenants Association, the Crescent Valley Resource Centre, or the community garden. She also knew change was needed as she advocated for the extension of provincial health coverage for people who leave Social Assistance and pushed to change the time of the month that the federal Child Benefits cheques arrived to better enable people to budget their money.

Juanita has always been willing to share what she has; whether it is her garden produce, her jams and pickles, her personal time or her financial resources. Her concern with generational poverty in all priority neighbourhoods within Saint John led her to approach the Community Foundation in December of 2017 to establish a permanently endowed fund for one or more bursaries to be awarded to graduates from Crescent Valley/Anglin Drive attending Harbour View High School and pursuing post-secondary education. She provided the foundational investment for the now Juanita L. Black Bursary Fund.

Juanita’s leadership has been recognized; she is the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the YMCA Peace Medal and the Innovation Award from Vibrant Communities Canada, among many other awards and honours. But her personal touch has also been recognized as evident in letters and emails where people thank her for her encouragement, her efforts to assist and drive change.

Nicole Vair

From an early age, Nicole was interested in volunteering and giving back to her community. Throughout high school and university she was very active in extracurricular clubs and activities.

Nicole started working at the YMCA as the Communications Coordinator, eventually becoming Marketing and Communications Supervisor and then the Manager of Marketing and Communications. While employed at the Y, Nicole was selected to be a part of the Y Canada Young Ambassador Program. It was an experience of a lifetime for her, and another growth opportunity. She flourished in the program and her leadership skills became more evident. She was chosen to be a workshop facilitator at the YMCA Summit of the Americas in Bogota, Columbia.

Nicole’s commitment to the Y has been outstanding. She became a part of the Y family as an employee and then continued her journey as a volunteer. She served on the International Committee, recruiting volunteers and organizing Peace Week activities. She was instrumental in the creation of the YMCA Youth Council in 2017 and is still on the committee, providing support for Y initiatives and encouraging youth to be involved with the Y and their community. She was a group fitness volunteer, teaching Zumba and inspiring Y members to join her classes. For the past two years, she has been the co-host for the Red Triangle Award Virtual Event.

Nicole’s other volunteer activities in the community included being on the Executive of Project Roar, a charity dedicated to promoting detection and prevention of childhood sex abuse. She volunteered with Operation Red Nose, ensuring party goers had a safe ride home while supporting a local charity. She was a volunteer writer for The East magazine, sharing local arts and culture stories. Her love for theatre and dance led her to be involved with the Inter Action School of the Performing Arts and the Saint John Theatre Company.

Involvement in shaping the future of her community has always been important to Nicole. She is currently employed with Envision Saint John: The Regional Growth Agency, supporting innovation and growth in the region. As the co­chair of Fusion Saint John, she demonstrates her commitment to making Saint John the premier place to live, work and play. She also joined the YMCA Strategic Planning Task Force this year, helping to identify the priorities that will shape the future of the Y.

About the YMCA of Greater Saint John

The YMCA of Greater Saint John is a trusted charity that delivers lasting personal and social change. We are committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within the community. There are 19 locations throughout Greater Saint John.  Together, we serve more than 22,000 people. Our focus on providing a sense of belonging and accessibility means we serve people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life. Through the Y’s Strong Communities Fund, we are accessible to everyone.


About Emera New Brunswick

Emera Inc. is a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with approximately $31 billion in assets and 2020 revenues of more than $5.5 billion. The company primarily invests in regulated electricity generation and electricity and gas transmission and distribution with a strategic focus on transformation from high carbon to low carbon energy sources. Emera has investments in Canada, the United States and in four Caribbean countries.