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Wayne Chiu, 58, Calgary

Named a member of the Order of Canada for his business leadership and commitment to social responsibility through his home-building company the Trico Group and the Trico Charitable Foundation for social enterprise.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?

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My focus is on encouraging social entrepreneurship. We are in business, but we have to make sure that we are able to marry the business to a positive impact in social society. … In our business, we are looking at affordable housing, looking to house people who need a hand up.

What's left to do?

I want to be able to influence the younger generation to make sure that they're able to [adopt] this idea: To do good for ourselves and to help others at the same time.

Lawrence Hill, 58, Hamilton

Appointed a member of the Order of Canada for his work as a celebrated author, often writing on themes of race, identity and belonging, including in his award-winning novel The Book of Negroes.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?

It always feels like writing the very last book was the biggest achievement. I never believe I'm going to be able to finish it or do it until it's done. It's great to be honoured, but the actual achievement of writing something and completing it feels like the biggest achievement. … I write about painful things and that excavates a lot of pain.

What's left to do?

I really want to write a novel about the building of the Alaska Highway, which involved thousands of African-Americans who came up from the Deep South during the Second World War to build the highway in segregated conditions in Northern Canada. … It's a story that's really unknown, and I'm always excited by dramatizing the parts of relatively unknown Canadian history.

Bonnie Schmidt, 49, London, Ont.

Named a member of the Order of Canada because of her advocacy for youth engagement in science education through her organization Let's Talk Science, which develops programs for children from preschool to high school.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Given that education is a jurisdictional issue, the fact that [Let's Talk Science] builds programs and partnerships at a national level is fantastic. We believe very strongly that experiential learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math not only build incredibly important skills for kids for Canada's future, but it's getting them ready for a knowledge-based economy.

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What's left to do?

We're just getting started. For us, it's not just about teaching young people about science, but it's helping build the skills and competencies that are needed in a very complex, ambiguous world. It will continue to morph and shape and build national momentum in helping people get ready for a future that looks very different.

Donna Soble Kaufman, 71, Toronto

Selected as a member of the Order of Canada for her work in business and law, notably serving on many boards of directors, including as chair of TransAlta Corporation, while mentoring and advocating for women in business.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?

I've learned from raising my children the things that go with corporate governance: As the co-CEO of the family, you learn to listen, about fairness, the fundamental tenets of being ethical and just. And I think all those things were transportable to my business career. … I've spent hundreds if not thousands of hours mentoring young women – several men as well, but way more women. I like to take as much time as I can with every individual who pays me the honour of asking for my advice and counsel, and I've had enough years now that I can see that I have been able to be helpful.

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What's left to do?

I've encouraged Canadian boards to make appointments of more women – qualified women, excellent women. We are making progress, but it's a little glacial. … We shouldn't think it's done. That's the biggest problem. … I'd love to see more women in business, moving up the ranks. That's where they are often discriminated against for all kinds of reasons.

Interviews have been condensed and edited.

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