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Former governor-general Michaëlle Jean honours Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail, as a Member of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Nov. 17 in Ottawa.Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Forty-eight people – ranging from activists and business leaders to writers and artists – were invested into the Order of Canada Thursday. Among the recipients was Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail.

A crowd of about 150 gathered for the investiture at Rideau Hall in Ottawa to celebrate those selected for their contributions to the country.

“I’ve lived in Canada for 24 years, moved here in ‘98, and I never imagined this would be happening,” Mr. Crawley said, adding that he was honoured to have received the award as an immigrant to Canada.

Mr. Crawley was invested as a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the Canadian journalism industry, along with his philanthropic work. “I think the award is very much a recognition of the work of The Globe and Mail and its staff. In that sense, I’m just the representative,” he said.

Mr. Crawley said the ceremony was “a real celebration of talent, commitment, passion for causes, people who’ve devoted their lives to the broader benefit of the community.”

Presiding over the ceremony on behalf of Governor-General Mary Simon, who was ill, was the 27th Gov.-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, who served from 2005 to 2010.

Ms. Jean commended those who were being invested into the order, which included five companions, 12 officers and 31 members.

“You who today are receiving Canada’s highest distinction, have always tried to outdo yourselves, to push your limits, and to push the frontiers of human knowledge and imagination to improve the life of your fellow Canadians,” she said.

Physicist Donna Strickland received the insignia of companion, the highest level of the order. Dr. Strickland was honoured for her revolutionary use of high-intensity lasers. She won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2018 for developing a method of amplifying laser light.

“What a joyous experience to be here and just see all the talent that Canada has and the number of different ways that we all contribute. It’s really wonderful,” said Dr. Strickland.

Receiving the insignia of officer was Ovide William Mercredi, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who said the choice to accept today’s honour was one that took him an immense amount of thought.

Mr. Mercredi chose to accept the award to honour his parents and his siblings. “They would want the best for me, and this would be something that they would support,” he said.

Recognized for his advocacy and work as a politician in advancing the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples, Mr. Mercredi said it shows how “Canada is willing to honour those who fight against them.”

Receiving the insignia of member alongside Mr. Crawley was former Ontario MPP Rev. Cheri DiNovo.

Ms. DiNovo was recognized for her advocacy for social justice and human rights for the LGBTQ community. As an MPP, Ms. DiNovo was instrumental in getting the most pro-LGBTQ bills in Canadian history passed into law.

“It truly is an honour just to be in the same room with some of these phenomenal Canadians,” Ms. DiNovo said, adding that she felt very moved by the achievements of the other recipients.

The Order of Canada was created in 1967 by the late Queen Elizabeth II and is considered Canada’s highest civilian honour. Recipients are appointed twice a year and must be nominated, then selected by an advisory council to the Governor-General.