03/15/2016 02:34 EDT | Updated 03/16/2017 05:12 EDT

Help Honour Ontarians Who Make A Difference In Your Community

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Imagine a community organizer using emerging technology to breathe life into aboriginal languages. A doctor lending skills and expertise to respond internationally to the Ebola outbreak. A lifelong volunteer improving the lives of low-income families and homeless people in Ontario's North.

These are some of the newest members of the Order of Ontario, our province's highest official honour. During the past 30 years, more than 600 people from all walks of life have been invested into this society of merit. They are your neighbours. They represent the best of who we can be, and are united by their exceptional achievements and service to others. The Order of Ontario is how we recognize and celebrate those who have enriched our lives.

In my formal role as Chancellor of the Order of Ontario -- and my informal role as the province's "Storyteller-in-Chief" -- I have had the privilege of meeting them individually to hear their inspirational stories. And after dozens of conversations, I note several common themes:

  • First, I have been struck by the humility of members. Often they tell a personal compelling story of immigration, and of gratitude to their chosen homeland. They view joining the Order of Ontario as an opportunity to rededicate themselves in service to their communities. They do not regard the appointment as marking the end of their contributions, but rather as inspiring them to further action.
  • Secondly, they demonstrate what can be achieved by individual action to make our communities, province, and world a better place. They do not necessarily lead large or powerful organizations, but all exhibit passion and personal traits of perseverance, dedication, and hard work, and a motivation to do what is right.
  • Thirdly, their stories help reveal some common values of Ontarians. We are creative and innovative people who question established ideas in fields ranging from science and healthcare to accessibility and anti-bullying. We reach out beyond our borders with generosity of spirit, enhancing intercultural understanding and improving global child health. We strengthen our own communities by advocating for the most vulnerable. And we nourish our souls through culture and the arts, whether on stage or by working to preserve local histories or our province's Francophone character.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As we think about our aspirations for the future of our country, the insights of unsung achievers among us will be invaluable. I encourage all Ontarians to help us identify deserving individuals who are making a difference today. This is an important contribution that every citizen can make.

The next call for nominations closes on March 31. The Order of Ontario is only as strong as the nominations it receives. There is probably someone in your life who regularly goes above and beyond, so I invite you to submit an online nomination for any current or former resident of Ontario. Together, we can pay tribute to those whose contributions have changed our society for the better. For further information about the Order of Ontario, please visit

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