A Nobel laureate, a former prime minister and a Hollywood director are among 120 people honoured in the New Year's appointments to the Order of Canada.
James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of Titanic and Avatar, joins former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and physicist Donna Strickland as companions of the order, the highest of the honour's three levels. There can be no more than 165 living companions at any time.
"Well, I was kind of shocked. It's out of the blue and I don't know whose idea it was but, look, I am definitely honoured," said Cameron from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. "I wish I had done more in my career, actually in Canada, but I am sort of making up for lost time the last few years with our investments in the Prairie provinces, especially in Saskatchewan around the Saskatoon area."
Cameron is being honoured for his "outstanding contributions to the filmmaking industry as a writer, producer and director" for his work on films such as Terminator, Aliens and True Lies, but if his Order of Canada can bring attention to any of his accomplishments he says he hopes it's his efforts to make the production of plant-based proteins profitable enough to supplant the meat industry.
In 2017 Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, invested in an organic pea-processing plant in Vanscoy, a village southwest of Saskatoon, forming Verdient Foods to handle 160,000 tonnes of pea protein.
Cameron says that he would like his order to not only highlight his film career but also in his passion for the scientific process and efforts to reduce what he says are the environmental harms created by the meat industry.
"For me it's less about looking back and more about moving forward," he said. "Nobody wants to talk about the food business but it's the quickest way for us to turn down the thermostat on global climate ... if we can make money in the plant protein area, then other people will do it and that will foster more products that make it easier for people to transition from meat and dairy into a whole-food, plant-based diet."
Cameron says that change would take pressures off the oceans, forests and rivers and help the Canadian economy at the same time.
"It pleases me that we are creating jobs and I'm finally doing something substantive in Canada because I have lived in the U.S. and New Zealand primarily."
Strickland, Cameron's fellow appointee as a companion, shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics with French scientist Gérard Mourou for their work in amplifying lasers.
"I feel so proud and privileged to be Canadian and I am thrilled to receive this recognition from my country," the University of Waterloo professor said. "It is an exceptional honour for me to be named a companion of the Order of Canada. This award means a great deal to me."
The other two appointments to the companion level are diplomat Raymond Chrétien, nephew of former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, and Toronto philanthropist George A. Cohon. Both are promotions within the order.
Indigenous athlete, actor, educator and Arctic ambassador Johnny Issaluk has been made a member of the order for his accomplishments and for increasing the visibility of northern and Inuit culture.
"I am still blown away by it, when I see my friends and family getting these awards I'm very proud and honoured to know these people that are well deserved and I never even dreamt of something like that," said Issaluk, who appeared in the film Indian Horse and in the TV series The Terror.
"My biggest passions are inspiring youth, motivation but also my cultural stewardship, I'm very proud of being Inuk and representing my family, my friends, my ancestors," he added.
Another new member is Anne Dagg, who is being honoured for her contribution to the modern scientific understanding of the giraffe and her work in the field of animal behaviour science.
Dagg told CBC that she first encountered the giraffe as a child at the Chicago Zoo, kicking off what would be a lifelong fascination with the African mammal.
"I was so excited about them and thought they were just so beautiful," she said. "I then asked my parents if they could buy me a book to read about them but they told me there was no such book."
"That's when I decided I was going to go and write the first book about giraffes in the wild, which I later did."
Dagg's book, The Giraffe, its Biology, Behaviour and Ecology, which she co-authored along with J. Bristol Foster, became the first of many she would write on animal behaviour.
If her honour draws attention to anything, Dagg said, she hopes it would be to the plight of the giraffe as populations continue to decline due to its use as a food source.
"What we're worried about now is that there is a chance they will become extinct because there are so many of them that are being killed in Africa," she said.
The list also includes three former CBC personalities. Hana Gartner, a former co-host of The Fifth Estate and The National, and Eric Friesen, a former CBC Radio host, were both appointed members of the order. Don Newman, who hosted Politics on CBC Newsworld (the precursor to CBC News Network), was promoted to be an officer.
Gartner and Newman were honoured for their contributions to journalism while Friesen was honoured for elevating "the public appreciation of classical music" as a radio host, writer and speaker.
Author Katherine Govier is being made a member of the order for her contributions to literature and for supporting refugee and immigrant women, which she does through the Shoe Project — a national, women-led, charitable initiative to showcase the written and spoken voices of women immigrants and refugees.
"For my writing, of course, I'm really honoured because I just want Canadians to know themselves and their history and their myths and the present as well," she told CBC. "So I feel when a writer is named to something like this it is a message to all to value our voices."
She said that what she likes best about working with refugee and immigrant women is helping them find their voice and realize that they have something to say to Canadians.
"We have amazing newcomers arriving all the time and they come from places where it has not been easy for them and the more I listen to those stories the more glad I am to be in this country," she said.
"I see their amazement at the kind of freedoms that we offer in Canada: the freedom to speak your mind, the freedom to pursue your career, the courses that are offered, the assistance that is offered to help people get on their feet. I have come to appreciate [Canada] more and more."
Peter Kendall, executive director of the online youth environmental conservation group Earth Rangers said it is a "huge honour" to be named a member of the order.
"Of all the work that I've done over the years, Earth Rangers is the one that I am most proud of," Kendall said.
Kendall said that he hopes the honour draws attention to the work he has done showing kids they can make a difference by encouraging them to act on issues that are important to them.
"That ability to help a child and help them through this period and help build resilience in them is something that I am really proud of and is something that is really necessary in the world today," he said.
Cirque du Soleil co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix is being recognized for his work as the artistic director of the performance company he helped launch by entering the order as an officer.
"I was really surprised and excited. I am totally humbled by the recognition because it is something that I did not expect," he said.
Montréal's Ste-Croix said that when he started out he was only trying to create street theatre with acrobats and never thought it would evolve into the global entertainment giant it is today.
"It's quite satisfying to think that I was a part of that, because I was able to bring joy to so many people," he said.
Other notable entrants to the order include gymnastics judge and administrator Slava Corn and former Liberal premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Roger Grimes.
"Most of us do all of this and we don't do it for rewards, you get into it and it's the reward of doing the work. When it is recognized it is very, very nice," Corn said.
Grimes, who was premier from 2001 to 2003, said that he never expected to receive the honour but hopes that he is remembered for his advocacy for education in his province.
"For me if anything, you never look at the things you do and think of any recognition but if there was anything for me that I've always been a champion for it's education being the key to success and being the key to everybody's personal opportunities to move ahead and most likely have a better life," he said.
The appointees will be presented with their insignia at Rideau Hall in Ottawa at one of four investiture ceremonies held every year.
The Order of Canada
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette 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
- James Francis Cameron, C.C.
- Raymond A. J. Chrétien, C.C. (This is a promotion within the Order)
- George A. Cohon, C.C., O.Ont. (This is a promotion within the Order)
- The Rt. Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., C.C.
- Donna Theo Strickland, C.C.
Officers of the Order of Canada
- John Amagoalik, O.C., O.Nu.
- Annette av Paul, O.C.
- Raymond Bachand, O.C.
- David Osborn Braley, O.C.
- Eddy Carmack, O.C.
- John J. Clague, O.C.
- Slava Corn, O.C.
- Jean-Charles Coutu, O.C., O.Q.
- Donald Bruce Dingwell, O.C.
- Michael Donovan, O.C.
- Alain-G. Gagnon, O.C.
- The Hon. Daniel P. Hays, P.C., O.C., C.D.
- Mark Henkelman, O.C.
- Joan May Hollobon, O.C.
- Daniel Jutras, O.C.
- Shoo Kim Lee, O.C.
- Thomas E. H. Lee, O.C.
- Noni MacDonald, O.C., O.N.S.
- Robie W. Macdonald, O.C.
- Robin McLeod, O.C.
- André Ménard, O.C.
- Karen Messing, O.C.
- Christine M. Morrissey, O.C.
- Sister Sue M. Mosteller, O.C.
- Donald Kenneth Newman, O.C. (This is a promotion within the Order)
- Caroline Ouellette, O.C.
- François Paulette, O.C.
- Debra Pepler, O.C.
- Heather Maxine Reisman, O.C. (This is a promotion within the Order)
- Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, O.C., O.M.
- Marcel Sabourin, O.C.
- James V. Scott, O.C.
- Alain Simard, O.C., C.Q.
- Gilles Ste-Croix, O.C.
- Josef Svoboda, O.C.
- Lorna Wanosts'a7 Williams, O.C., O.B.C.
- James V. Zidek, O.C.
- Bernard Zinman, O.C. (This is a promotion within the Order)
Members of the Order of Canada
- Pita Aatami, C.M., C.Q.
- Brian Ahern, C.M.
- Mathew Baldwin, C.M.
- T. Robert Beamish, C.M.
- Ronald Duncan Besse, C.M.
- Paul Born, C.M.
- Maurice Brisson, C.M.
- Omer Chouinard, C.M.
- Diane Clement, C.M.
- Mitchell Cohen, C.M.
- John Collins, C.M.
- The Hon. James Cowan, C.M., Q.C.
- Phillip Crawley, C.M., C.B.E.
- Valerie Lynn Creighton, C.M., S.O.M.
- Anne Innis Dagg, C.M.
- Mary Eberle Deacon, C.M.
- The Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, C.M.
- Xavier Dolan, C.M., C.Q.
- Hugo Eppich, C.M.
- Wayne John Fairhead, C.M.
- Ronald Charles Fellows, C.M.
- Thomas J. Foran, C.M., O.N.L.
- Eric D. Friesen, C.M.
- Berna Valencia Garron, C.M.
- Myron Austin Garron, C.M.
- Hana Gartner, C.M.
- Marie Giguère, C.M.
- Katherine Govier, C.M.
- Brig.-Gen. the Hon. John James Grant, C.M., C.M.M., O.N.S., C.D.
- Ken Greenberg, C.M.
- Roger D. Grimes, C.M.
- Arshavir Gundjian, C.M.
- Sarah Hall, C.M.
- Pavel Hamet, C.M., O.Q.
- Peter Harrison, C.M.
- Joyce Louise Hisey, C.M.
- Gordon J. Hoffman, C.M., Q.C.
- Steve E. Hrudey, C.M., A.O.E.
- John S. Hunkin, C.M.
- Johnny Nurraq Seotaituq Issaluk, C.M.
- Peter Kendall, C.M.
- Hal Philip Klepak, C.M., C.D.
- alcides lanza, C.M.
- Cathy Levy, C.M.
- Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, C.M., O.B.C.
- Derek Lister, C.M.
- Julie Macfarlane, C.M.
- Isabelle Marcoux, C.M.
- R. Mohan Mathur, C.M.
- Donald S. Mavinic, C.M.
- Denyse McCann, C.M.
- Séan McCann, C.M.
- Brian Theodore McGeer, C.M.
- Stuart M. McGill, C.M.
- Anthony Bernard Miller, C.M.
- Nadir H. Mohamed, C.M.
- Susan Helena Mortimer, C.M.
- M. Lee Myers, C.M.
- Paul Nicklen, C.M.
- The Hon. Donald H. Oliver, C.M., Q.C.
- Brian Stuart Osborne, C.M.
- Louis-Frédéric Paquin, C.M.
- Ralph Pentland, C.M.
- Michael U. Potter, C.M.
- Robert Dick Richmond, C.M.
- Larry Rosen, C.M.
- Janice Sanderson, C.M.
- Kourken Sarkissian, C.M.
- Duncan Gordon Sinclair, C.M.
- Harry Sheldon Swain, C.M.
- Beverly Thomson, C.M.
- Darren Dennis Throop, C.M.
- Jennifer Tory, C.M.
- Gordon W. Walker, C.M., Q.C.
- Mel Watkins, C.M.
- Sheri-D Wilson, C.M.
- Lynn Margaret Zimmer, C.M.