Order of Canada

“They desire a better country.” That is the motto of the Order of Canada which recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation.

On May 13th, 48 Canadians were invested into the Order. They represent a remarkably diverse cross-section of Canadian society—athletes, visual and performing artists, doctors and other health care professionals, academics, and leaders in business, public service, and civil society.

Many had similar reactions when first called with the news. Surprise, and a bit of anxiety that the call might be a hoax. Some called back to the Governor General’s office to make sure.

Listening to the citations being read while each recipient was receiving her or his insignia, many felt humbled to be part of such a group.

Arthur MacDonald is the Cape Breton born particle physicist who recently received a Nobel Prize.

Physician Daniel Drucker’s research has enabled the development of three medicinal therapies now used by millions of people around the world for the treatment of diabetes and intestinal disorders.

Basketball star Steve Nash gives unstinting support to charitable causes helping underserved children in Canada, the United States, and Paraguay.

Winnipeg Museum curator E. Leigh Syms has helped aboriginal citizens rediscover their heritage through exhibits he has curated in their own communities, and through their involvement in the interpretation of the artifacts he has found.

Many of the inductees came from privileged backgrounds, but some did not. The citations of two of them are particularly moving. Here they are in full:

“After enduring her own struggles with depression and poverty, Pat Capponi has worked to improve the lives of the homeless and those living with mental illness. As an advocate, she has served on mental health committees and on the boards of non-profit organizations including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She also helped launch Voices from the Street, a leadership and public-speaking program for those living in poverty. In addition, she has written seven books, including a mystery series, that help shed light on the lives of marginalized people.”

“Mohamed Ravalia is a local hero in Twillingate. A physician, he came to rural Newfoundland (from Zimbabwe) 30 years ago to fill a locum and never left. His passion for rural medicine has benefited local residents who value his patient-centred approach. He has inspired medical students to practice in this area and then remain in the province. Highly regarded for speaking out for better medical services in remote areas, he has helped patients, doctors, administrators and governments work together to improve the health care system. He is also deeply involved in civic life, supporting initiatives that benefit his beloved community.”

Nominations are vetted by an independent committee chaired by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. They can be proposed by anybody on a form which can be found at gg.ca. The citations of last week’s inductees can also be found there.

The process is even-handed but the mix of successful candidates will inevitably be affected by the mix of nominees. Some communities, for example medical researchers in Toronto, are very active in bringing forward worthy candidates. Other areas, such as people from rural parts of Canada, seem to be underrepresented.

The Order of Canada provides a great opportunity to celebrate and honour Canadians who are making a valuable contribution to their region, or to the country as a whole. Who are the people who you know that might be a successful candidates?

There are 132 Nova Scotians alive today who have received the award since it was inaugurated in 1967. There are many more deserving of recognition. Nominate them.


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