As the applause rang out in Bannerman Park this afternoon, the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Anita Best tried to start her thank-yous four or five times before the audience slowed it’s clapping. They simply wanted more time to show their respect before Anita delivered her brief and very humble acceptance speech. The general consensus of the audience was that they would have loved to hear a song from Anita, but no one complained, as she has given so much to the province over the years.
Her musical career as both a solo artist and a member of Figgy Duff is enough to warrant the recognition this weekend, but it doesn’t stop there. Anita has made an immense contribution to cultural education and the preservation of storytelling, through both oral tradition and song, in Newfoundland and Labrador. She is an archivist and mentor. She has travelled the province as a teacher, and has travelled the world as an ambassador for Newfoundland culture.
Anita Best is the Past-President of the Newfoundland Folk Arts Society, recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2011. She currently lives on the West Coast of the province, and can be heard broadcasting on Radio VOBB, the Voice of Bonne Bay (http://www.vobb.org/).
She is also an inspiration and role model. When I was a young girl, I won in the Junior Division of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts & Letters Awards. When the call came, Mom said she didn’t know what excited me more – the fact that I won, or the fact that Anita Best was on the phone for me. It was an honour to be in the audience today.