Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SASKTODAY.ca
A Hudson Bay resident was recognized by the province for his decades of public service.
On Sept. 27 the Province of Saskatchewan honoured Neal Hardy with the Order of Merit.
“Each one of this year’s recipients has earned this prestigious honour for their years of commitment to their communities and our province,” Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty said. “Their dedication has helped Saskatchewan grow into what it is today and for that we owe them immense gratitude. It is my privilege to recognize the contributions of these six recipients and offer them my wholehearted congratulations.”
Neal Hardy was the first reeve for the RM of Hudson Bay No. 394 when it was first incorporated in 1977 and is the current reeve today. Neal has served in municipal politics for over 42 years and has served 25 years as reeve of the RM of Hudson Bay No. 394.
Hardy grew up on farm in the Etomami area south of Hudson Bay and graduated from Hudson Bay High School. He married to Darlene Lundy and raised four children, two boys and two girls: Mervin, Lynda, Donald & Donna. Hardy owned and operated several retail businesses including Starlite & Northeast Service from 1962 – 2000.
“The purpose of municipal governments, as the level closest to the people, is in the delivery of services required locally to allow the community to thrive,” said the speech at the Sept. 27 ceremony. “For nearly 50 years now, in a variety of roles, he has been stalwart. Work in municipal government is often thankless, certainly not rewarding in the traditional economic sense, but it is unequivocally vital to all who live and work there. Neal saw this and understood what needed to get done – not only in his RM, but also provincially in his work at SARM.
“But he’s also presided over the local Minor Baseball and Curling clubs. He has sat on countless boards, and chaired innumerable committees. In a province that has long relied on the selfless work of many to keep things going, Neal Hardy stands tall as a leader.
“Neal has been described to us as ‘trusted by farmers, towns people, indigenous leaders and politicians – locally, provincially, and nationally.’ And during his time in Regina in politics he was a compass that guided rural programs, policies, and legislation. It was his decades in rural government that led him to the cabinet table and helped open doors to economic development in rural Saskatchewan.”
Hardy has been heavily involved at a local and provincial level of government. He served as MLA for the Kelsey-Tisdale constituency from 1980-91, Cabinet Minister and Minister of Environment, Minister of Rural Development, Vice-president and President of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities for 10 years, Chairperson of the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency from 2009-2016.
Neal was also involved in the Clearing the Path Initiative that was started to look at reducing barriers to economic development in rural Saskatchewan. This project lead to the implementation of the Clearing the Path Primary Weight Corridor Network of 10,000 km of primary weight roads linking rural municipalities to primary weight highways in an effort to enhance economic development. Clearing the Path also led to the formation of the Municipal Capacity Development Program that was created to assist municipalities in the developing of long term municipal capacity.
The Saskatchewan Order of Merit was established in 1985 to celebrate excellence and achievement by Saskatchewan citizens.
Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty said, “Today’s recipients join the 266 individuals who have been invested with the Order in appreciation of their significant contributions in areas such as the arts, agriculture, business and industry, community leadership, occupations or professions, public service, research and volunteer service
The 2023 Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipients were:
Al Anderson, Saskatoon
Nora Cummings, S.V.M., Saskatoon
Neal Hardy, Hudson Bay
Pierre Hucl, Saskatoon
Don Meikle, Saskatoon
Jacqueline Tisher, Regina