POLITICS

Annual Order of Canada honours long list of actors, authors, electronic pioneer

07/01/2015 12:06 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - The man who helped create the BlackBerry, the female CEOs of two provincial public broadcasters, a noted First Nations actor and a former Olympic medallist are among the Canadians being appointed to the Order of Canada.

Rideau Hall's Canada Day announcement allows those on the list to share the news of the honour, which is usually a closely guarded secret until Gov. Gen. David Johnston makes the information public.

This year's notable names include Douglas Fregin, the man who co-founded Research in Motion with Mike Lazaridis. Fregin designed the first circuit board the company used to run early versions of its wireless technology, and then helped choose the materials that are still found in BlackBerry devices around the world.

Lazaridis's wife Ophelia is also being invested as a member of the Order of Canada for her philanthropic work around Waterloo, Ont., where BlackBerry is based.

Author Lawrence Hill will be recognized for his writing to tell the stories of Canada's black community, notably through the critically acclaimed "Book of Negroes," and advocacy work on behalf of women and girls in Africa.

Oscar-nominated and Gemini award-winning actor Graham Greene is a familiar face in films, television shows, and theatre productions in Canada and overseas. The First Nations actor is being honoured for "achievements as a pioneering and versatile actor," which included a 1991 Academy Award best supporting actor nomination for his role in the film "Dances with Wolves."

Also being honoured are TVOntario CEO Lisa de Wilde for "transformative leadership" at the provincial public broadcaster, and Tele-Quebec counterpart Michele Fortin for her "contributions to the vitality of French-language and educational television."

Rideau Hall says there will be 100 new appointments to the Order of Canada, with one being a promotion to the highest level — former Ontario premier and Liberal MP Bob Rae is being invested as a companion — while the other is an honorary appointment for Johan Olav Koss, an Olympic speed skating champion from Norway.

Koss, who lives in Toronto, founded Right to Play, an advocacy group for children in sports.

Other notable sports names on the list are Olympic curling champion Russ Howard, former Olympic diver and Pan Am Games medallist Beverley Boys and Fran Rider, who was instrumental in making women's hockey what it is today on the international scene.

Rider, who lives in Toronto, is already in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame for her work founding the first IIHF women's hockey tournament two decades ago, as well as the first Canadian national women's hockey championship in 1982.

The list outlines those who have been selected for the Order of Canada based on their achievements as authors, medical researchers, social advocates, business leaders, or politicians.

Three former politicians are being recognized for their life in politics, including former Alberta finance minister Jim Dinning and former Quebec finance minister Monique Jerome-Forget. Joyce Fairbairn, a former Liberal senator and literacy advocate, resigned from the Senate in 2012 after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

The Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours, was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Over the last 45 years, more than 6,000 people from all walks of life have been invested into the order.