Governor-General David Johnston names 113 new appointments to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours issued twice yearly, which recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation
Barbara Sherwood Lollar, C.C., Toronto
When Barbara Sherwood Lollar was growing up in Kingston, summer vacation meant travelling across the Atlantic as the child of two historians, both professors at Queen’s University, as they pursued their research in the libraries of Europe. Her summer reading consisted of books her parents brought along to keep their three children occupied along the way.
It was likely during one of those family trips that Dr. Sherwood Lollar says she first cracked open Jules Verne’s classic tale of subterranean adventure and discovery, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The idea that unseen worlds lie hidden beneath our feet caught hold of her imagination then and never went away.
Science is about sober, reasoned analysis, hard work and incremental progress, she says. “But the exploration side of it – the side that grabbed me in the first place – is still at the heart of so much of what scientists do.”
It was the quest to explore that ultimately led Dr. Sherwood Lollar, an internationally known geochemist at the University of Toronto, to become an expert at measuring the trace isotopes that are carried by water moving deep below ground.
In some cases, those isotopes have allowed her to track the history and movement of environmental contaminants. More famously, they helped her prove that water seeping into a Northern Ontario mine, three kilometres deep, has been cut off from the surface for more than a billion years. The find raises the tantalizing possibility of ancient microbes surviving in isolated reservoirs within the Earth, and on Mars too.
Dr. Sherwood Lollar hopes this latest recognition of her work will enable her to do more to promote diversity – including gender diversity – in Canadian research.
“We each have a tendency to self-replicate,” she says. “We need to step back and think of excellence in a way that’s different from our own archetypes.”
James W. St. G. Walker, Waterloo, Ont.
As one of Canada’s leading voices on the history of racial justice, James Walker, 75, has spent much of his career studying the profound impact of black Canadians on the country’s foundation. A professor of history at the University of Waterloo, he has published numerous articles and book chapters on the subject, notably “Race,” Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Inspired by the 1965 marches in Selma, Ala., Prof. Walker was one of the co-founders of Dalhousie University’s Transition Year Program, meant to confront Canada’s own inequalities.
“Some of our kids hadn’t even finished public school.… We thought that a year of education would enable young black kids to go back into their own community and become leaders,” he said. Almost 40 years later, the program has led to greater enrolment for black and aboriginal students at the university.
But he feels there is still more work to be done. In particular, his book A History of Blacks in Canada: A Study Guide for Teachers and Students has yet to stir up the interest he hoped.
For Prof. Walker, reading isn’t enough. “There’s a political awareness that has to be injected somewhere. If people read it and it’s just a nice story, they move on.”
Jean Swanson, Vancouver
When federal and provincial housing ministers gathered this week in Victoria to discuss a national housing strategy, Jean Swanson was among protesters who dogged their footsteps, asking what the bureaucrats planned to do for the people living in a tent city nearby.
For the last four decades or so, that’s where Ms. Swanson, 73, has been: marching and organizing on behalf of people who are poor and vulnerable.
Asked to cite achievements, she instead says things have gotten worse: Vancouver recently posted its highest homeless count in a decade and welfare rates in British Columbia have not been raised for nearly as long. So she keeps up the demands: for higher welfare rates, more social housing and an end to austerity.
“Governments could change that, they’ve done it in the past, they need to get their act together and do it again,” she said.
Abraham Anghik Ruben, Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Daniel Dabrowski/Kipling Gallery
For decades, Inuit sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben has been committed to sharing stories inspired by his parents, his heritage and history through contemporary art.
A major focus of his work has been the story of the contact between the Viking Norse and the Inuit. It’s a piece of history, he says, that is “vital to our broader understanding of what took place in this country that we call Canada.”
Mr. Ruben hopes his work can reveal stories that aren’t getting told.
Through his own art, he wants to elevate the work done by native artists across Canada, so it can be recognized as important and contemporary by other artists in the country and internationally.
Currently juggling several projects in Canada, in talks for international exhibitions, with two large, Nordic-themed sculptures in the works, Mr. Ruben is hoping to establish a fund in support of children in the Arctic.
Cassie Campbell, Calgary
After leading Team Canada to multiple Olympic gold medals, and as the first female hockey player inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Cassie Campbell, 43, continues to inspire a generation of young female athletes.
Co-founder of the Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest training camp, she is a recent recipient of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Despite retiring from the game, Ms. Campbell remains a fixture of Canadian sports. In 2006, she became the first female colour commentator for the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and now works as a sideline reporter for both Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada.
The rules of hockey haven’t changed much over the years, but for Ms. Campbell, the game itself has.
“I didn’t even know girls played hockey, other than myself and a couple of teammates that were sprinkled into the boys’ game,” says Ms. Campbell. “Now the girls have role models to look up to. Corporations are starting to include the female game. Little boys know who the women’s national team players are.”
Edwardo L. Franco, Montreal
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the discovery that infection with human papillomavirus can lead to cervical cancer. Australian experts even said last month they are close to eradicating the disease, thanks to the HPV vaccine and better screening.
Eduardo Franco, director of the division of cancer epidemiology at McGill University, has been there since the beginning as one of the key figures to show that persistent HPV infections increased the risk of cancer. Now, Dr. Franco is being honoured for his contributions with an appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
While the Brazilian-born researcher is perhaps best known for his work examining the transmission of HPV and how it can lead to cancer, Dr. Franco said he is most proud of a “geeky” discovery in the early 1990s, when the link between HPV and cancer was still debated. Dr. Franco discovered the technology researchers were using was flawed, making it appear the virus wasn’t linked to cancer. Dr. Franco tried new methods and eventually found a way that showed the relationship without a doubt. The 63-year-old says he is “not done yet” and that a lot of work needs to be done to counter anti-vaccine myths as well as to improve HPV vaccination rates and cervical-cancer screening methods.
The full list of the latest additions
and promotions in the Order of Canada