A part-time Saltspring Islander whose appointment to the Order of Canada was announced Sunday says he “was a bit taken aback, to put it mildly.”
“I didn’t think that I had done anything in particular that warranted it,” said Fred Martin, a lawyer who splits his time between the island and Edmonton. Martin is receiving the order for working in support of equal rights, and in particular his work with the Métis Settlements General Council.
Altogether, Gov.-Gen. David Johnston announced 91 new appointments to the Order of Canada, which was established in 1967 to recognize service to Canada.
There are three levels to the honour: companion, officer and member. The highest level, companion, can only have 165 living members at any time.
The list of inductees is usually released twice a year.
Others named Sunday include former B.C. NDP premier Mike Harcourt, retired hockey stars Ken Dryden and Paul Henderson, longtime CBC journalists Michael Enright and Andrew Barrie, and investigative reporter Stevie Cameron.
Among Cameron’s best-known work is an investigation she did into then-prime minister Brian Mulroney’s involvement in the purchase of Airbus jets.
She was accused of being an informant for the RCMP when they launched their own investigation but those accusations were later recanted.
Broadcaster Elmer Hildebrand was named for his contributions to radio in western Canada and other charitable causes.
Two high-profile Canadian politicians were also inducted.
Sheila Copps, a deputy prime minister under Jean Chrétien, and Brian Tobin, also a Chrétien cabinet minister and former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, both became officers of the order.
B.C.-based recipients include: Julie Cruikshank of Vancouver (for her contribution to social services), Clyde Hertzman of Vancouver (health care), Bonnie Sher Klein of Vancouver (arts), David Scheifele of Surrey (health care), Ian Wallace of Vancouver (arts), Michael Brown of Vancouver (industry, commerce, business), James Cheng of Vancouver (architecture), Jane Coop of Vancouver (arts), Charmaine Crooks of West Vancouver (sports), Harold Kalman of Vancouver (heritage), and Toyoshi Yoshihara of Vancouver and Tokyo (arts).
Former Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine also became an officer of the order, cited for his contributions on behalf of First Nations and particularly his role in the resolution of claims arising from the aboriginal residential schools.
Several members of Canada’s arts community were recognized as well, including philanthropist Scott Griffin for his establishment of an international poetry prize, choreographer Paul-André Fortier for his contributions to dance and Roald Nasgaard, who is the chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Orders of Canada are awarded upon the recommendations of an 11-member advisory council that includes the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the Clerk of the Privy Council.
Only four have ever been revoked, each time because the individual was later convicted of crimes.
Earlier this year, Conrad Black had sought the ability to plead his case before the council as to why he should keep his.
The former media baron was convicted in the United States of fraud and obstruction of justice while he was head of media giant Hollinger International.
He contends he was unfairly treated.
His order remains under review.
Martin said the order made him grateful for his experiences working with the leaders of Métis settlements as they fought for recognition of the Métis Nation.
He said he will accept the order on behalf of everyone involved in that movement, including some of the leaders who have since died, such as Maurice L’Hirondelle, Adrian Hope and Richard Poitras.
“I feel very good because I feel like finally their efforts have been recognized,” he said. “They put in a lot of work, and their names don’t always get recognized.”
Martin said he will take the order to the Métis Settlements General Council office in Edmonton after he receives it so it can be displayed there.
“That’s where it belongs,” he said. “I think of it more as a recognition of a team than as an individual.”
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