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HomeSportsNBAIndigenous author and activist, Raptors president, prolific songwriter joining Order of Canada

Indigenous author and activist, Raptors president, prolific songwriter joining Order of Canada

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Advocates, artists and entertainers number among the 85 new appointees to the Order of Canada this year.

Considered one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, the Order of Canada is meant to recognize people who make “extraordinary contributions to the nation,” according to the Governor General of Canada’s website.

The order is divided into three levels — companions, officers and members. Companion is the highest level; there can be no more than 165 living companions at any time.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon announced the new appointees in a press release on Friday.

One of the new companions is former Supreme Court justice Clément Gascon, who served on Canada’s top court for five years.

While his appointment acknowledges his contributions to Canadian law, it also takes note of his work to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Gascon went missing one evening in May 2019, causing local police to issue an alert asking for help in finding him. He was later found unharmed. Gascon later attributed his disappearance to depression and anxiety.

“For over 20 years, I have been dealing with a sometimes insidious illness: depression and anxiety disorders,” Gascon said in a media statement at the time. He was praised for his open and frank comments about mental illness.

He retired from the court in September 2019 and received a Canadian Bar Association award in 2022, in part for his advocacy on mental health issues.

Jeannette Armstrong is one of the officer appointees for this year.

Armstrong is an associate professor at UBC, the Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous knowledge and the author of what is considered to be the first novel written by a First Nations woman in Canada — Slash.

Cover of Slash, by Jeannette Armstrong
Slash, by Jeannette Armstrong, is considered the first novel written by a First Nations woman in Canada. (Theytus Books)

Published 35 years ago, the story follows a young Okanagan man making his way through Canada and the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. It is taught widely in high schools, colleges and universities.

Juno winning singer-songwriter Andy Kim is also among the officer appointees.

Kim has written some famous hits, including Sugar, Sugar (recorded by The Archies), Rock Me Gently and How’d We Ever Get This Way. He has sold more than 30 million records over the course of his career.

The child of Lebanese immigrants, Kim was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2018 and received the SOCAN Cultural Impact Award in 2017.

Welcoming the Newcomers is one of two massive new works by Cree artist Kent Monkman, part of his installation mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People), that will be on display in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from Dec. 17, 2019 until April 2020.
Welcoming the Newcomers is one of two massive works by Cree artist Kent Monkman, part of his installation mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People). (Metropolitan Museum of Art )

Joining Kim and Armstrong as an officer in the order is Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

Ujiri first joined the Raptors organization as an executive in 2008 before leaving to become the general manager of the Denver Nuggets in 2010. Born in Nigeria, he was the first African to hold a general manager position in U.S. professional sports.

Returning to the Raptors in 2013, Ujiri helped build the team that won the franchise’s first NBA championship in 2019.

While he’s mostly known for his work in professional basketball, Ujiri also launched the non-profit organization Giants of Africa, a youth basketball program. He is also known for being outspoken about anti-Black racism in Canada and the U.S.

Cree artist Kent Monkman is one of the officer appointees. His work “explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss and resilience — the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences,” says his online biography.

He works in various media, including film, video, installations and live performance.

In 2020, Monkman’s painting Hanky Panky drew criticism from many who claimed it portrays sexual violence and disrespected First Nations traditions.

The painting shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau partially nude, on all fours, preparing for what Monkman called “a consensual act” while Indigenous women surrounding him laugh.

“I have been listening and learning from your feedback. I deeply regret any harm that was caused by the work. I acknowledge that the elements I had included to indicate consent are not prominent enough, and I see now how the painting could appear,” Monkman said in a public statement at the time.

His work has been exhibited at world-renowned galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Palais de Tokyo and the Royal Ontario Museum.

The Order of Canada

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon has appointed the following people, who were recommended for appointment by the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada:

Companions of the Order of Canada

Officers of the Order of Canada

Members of the Order of Canada

  • Lydia Muriel Adams

  • Morag Arneil

  • Barbara Assiginaak

  • John William Beaucage

  • Normand Caissie

  • Sarah Alexandra Carter

  • Elder Harley Crowshoe

  • Rola Dagher

  • Wendy R. Eisen

  • Jayanne English

  • John Fleetham

  • Robert J. Foster

  • Thomas Garfat

  • Joan Heather Garson

  • Paul Joseph Gauthier

  • Ronald Gold

  • Gary Daniel Goldberg

  • Charles William Gordon

  • Mathilde Françoise Gravelle-Bazinet

  • Rhoda Howard-Hassmann

  • Terry Hunter

  • A. Leona Irons-Cummings

  • G. Lynn Jones

  • Richard L’Abbé

  • Richard B. Larson

  • John A. Lederer

  • Beverly Lemire

  • Daniel Levy

  • Donald MacPherson

  • Jean Marmoreo

  • Don McDougall

  • Holly Susan McNally

  • Paul McNally

  • Robert Michaud

  • Robert Edward Mitchell

  • Peter R. O’Brien

  • Grant Norval Pierce

  • Léo-Paul Pinet

  • Evan Price

  • Gary Rush Purdy

  • Jeff Reading

  • Mike H. Shaikh

  • Ann Martin Shaw

  • Peter Showler

  • Santee Smith Tekaronhiáhkhwa

  • Stephen Stohn

  • Susan Swan

  • Norman Kiyomitsu Takeuchi

  • Sally Elizabeth Thorne

  • Mary A. Tidlund

  • Gérard Trudeau

  • Carole Vivier

  • Keith R. Walley

  • Savannah Walling.

  • Clifford A. Wallis

  • Daniel Marc Weinstock

  • Samuel Weiss

  • Thomas Cunningham Wilson

  • Michael Wulder

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