10/23/2012 10:47 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Artists, aboriginal leader among eight named to Saskatchewan Order of Merit

REGINA - Two artists, an aboriginal leader, an author and a philanthropist are among those named to the Saskatchewan Order of Merit this year.

The artists are the late Bruce Beatty of Melfort, an accomplished graphic artist and designer of the Order of Merit itself, and Regina painter and sculptor David Thauberger.

Regina's Sandra Birdsell is the author of six novels, three collections of short stories and several scripts for television, theatre and radio, and has been shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award.

Businessman W. Brett Wilson of North Battleford is likely best known to Canadians as a former panellist on the CBC's "Dragon's Den," and has established a reputation for mentoring young entrepreneurs and giving generously to charitable causes.

Raymond E. Ahenakew of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation is a past-president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and former chair of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.

As Meadow Lake Tribal Council chief executive officer, he pioneered self-government negotiations with Ottawa, and secured a $40 million bank loan to purchase Norsask Forest Products.

Other recipients include educational administrator Barbara Keirnes Young; Saskatoon lawyer W. Thomas Molloy; and agricultural researcher Brian G. Rossnagel.