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Amy Farnell Education Awards

Applications for the 2024/2025 academic year are now closed.

WHAT: Post-secondary education award

FOR WHOM: Full-time Nova Scotia students on the autism spectrum

MAXIMUM AMOUNT: $2,000 a year, renewable for up to four years

MADE POSSIBLE BY: The Craig Foundation and Autism Nova Scotia

In honour of Amy Farnell, long-time supporter and cherished friend, Autism Nova Scotia and the Craig Foundation are pleased to present the Amy Farnell Education Award(s) to eligible Nova Scotian students who identify as autistic/on the autism spectrum, and who have been accepted into a full-time post-secondary program.

Each year, the Craig Foundation will contribute $25,000 to the award with each individual award valued at up to $2,000 a year. Each award is renewable for the regular duration of the chosen program, to a maximum of four years. To renew, the student must be in good academic standing and remain enrolled full-time.

The Award is administered by Autism Nova Scotia in partnership with the Craig Foundation and the Amy Farnell Awards Committee.


To be considered for this award, applicants must:

  • Be a resident of Nova Scotia. 
  • Identify as autistic/someone on the autism spectrum.  
  • Have been accepted to, or currently enrolled in any post-secondary institution. 
  • Be registered to a course load that qualifies them as a full-time student. 
  • Be more likely to pursue post-secondary education with this extra financial support. 

To apply for this award, eligible applicants must: 

  1. Complete the Application Form, including the essay portion.
  2. Submit the completed Application Form along with the Acceptance Letter from the student’s educational institution for the upcoming academic year OR a confirmation of enrollment with program start date.
  3. Provide an unofficial high school transcript or unofficial post-secondary transcript.

If you have any questions regarding the application process for the Amy Farnell Award, please contact us at or call 902-446-4995.

Sheelagh Nolan Award


The Sheelagh Nolan Award for Excellence in Teaching is a prestigious award that honours the devotion and perseverance of the late Sheelagh Nolan. Sheelagh was an active contributor to many school and community causes. Sheelagh’s son, Patrick, is on the Autism Spectrum and was always Sheelagh’s greatest inspiration. With this award, we celebrate her legacy of support and her championing of excellence in education.

The winner of this award may be an individual or group—such as a teacher, a student support team, or a learning team—within a recognized and accredited Nova Scotia education centre, college, university, or Designated Special Education Private School (DSEPS).

Nominations will be accepted from parents, educators, learning support personnel, or learners at a school in Nova Scotia. With this award, we will recognize the efforts of an individual or team who fosters the growth and maximizes the potential of a learner or learners on the Autism Spectrum in a collaborative and positive manner.

Sheelagh Nolan Award for Excellence in Teaching: Criteria

When choosing someone to nominate, please clearly explain how that individual or team provides an exceptional learning environment for Autistic learners. In other words, be specific in your examples, using real life stories and situations.

Include information for all five criteria listed below, as they will be weighed equally when reviewed. Other comments may also be considered when reviewing applications.

  1. The person I am nominating works hard to help the Autistic learner(s) grow.
  2. The person I am nominating recognizes the importance of collaborating with the learner, family/caregivers, educators, and other significant partners involved.
  3. The person I am nominating helps the Autistic learner(s) build self-esteem and peer relationships.
  4. The person I am nominating consistently ensures they use the best practices and the most current information about autism and teaching Autistic learners.
  5. The person I am nominating is a teacher, member of a student support team, or learning team within an acredited Nova Scotia education centre, college/university or DSEPS school.

Joan Craig Trailblazer Award

Nominations for the 2024 Joan Craig Trailblazer Award are now closed.

The Joan Craig Trailblazer Award is presented to an individual with a steadfast commitment to advancing the work of Autism Nova Scotia by creating understanding, acceptance, and inclusion in the province. This award is presented annually to a change-maker who is building inclusion, amplifying autistic voices, and working collaboratively to help trailblaze a path forward for everyone.

At Autism Nova Scotia, we would not be where we are today without our tireless volunteers, partners, families, and caregivers. These inspiring people who work together with Autistic people and the community have helped change the trajectory of our province. These people are Trailblazers.

For our 20th anniversary in 2022, we were beyond honored to present the inaugural Trailblazer Award to our beloved co-founder, Joan Craig. In 2024, the Trailblazer Award will celebrate one of our many incredible volunteer community leaders.


  • The individual has made a significant contribution to Autism Nova Scotia. 
  • The individual has made a positive impact on acceptance, understanding and inclusion in the autistic community.
  • The individual is an autism champion and amplifies autistic voice.
  • Nominee must be Nova Scotia resident.

Please note: current Autism Nova Scotia staff and volunteers of the Provincial Board of Directors are not eligible.