Order of Canada
The Order of Canada
's highest civilian
award, awarded to those who adhere to the Order's motto Desiderantes meliorem patriam
meaning "they desire a better country."
The Order was created on July 1, 1967, on the country's 100th anniversary, to recognize Canadians who have made a difference to Canada. It is Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement. The Queen of Canada is Sovereign of the Order and the Governor-General is its Chancellor and Principal Companion.
There are three levels of the award:
- Companions of the Order of Canada have demonstrated the highest degree of merit to Canada and humanity, on the national or international scene. Up to 15 Companions are appointed each year, with a limit of 165 Companions at any given time.
- Officers of the Order of Canada have demonstrated an outstanding level of talent and service to Canadians. Up to 64 Officers are appointed each year.
- Members of the Order of Canada have made an exceptional contribution to Canada or Canadians at a local or regional level. As many as 136 Members may be appointed annually.
The Governor General of Canada
makes the appointments based on recommendations from an advisory council. All living Canadians are eligible for any of the three awards, with the exception of politicians and judges in office. Awards are announced twice annually, on January 1 and July 1 (Canada Day
). Members may be promoted to Officers, and Officers may be promoted to Companions; this is generally done five years or more after the initial appointment.
Citizens of other countries are eligible for honorary appointments at all three levels. The maximum number of honorary appointments per year is five.
Past appointments include:
- David Ahenakew, First Nations leader
- Pitseolak Ashoona, Inuit artist
- Jean Beliveau, professional ice hockey player
- Pierre Berton, journalist, author, popularizer of Canadian history
- Leonard Cohen, writer, poet and musician
- Ernie Coombs, a.k.a. "Mr. Dressup" - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV personality
- Terry Fox, athlete and cancer fundraising activist
- Wayne Gretzky, professional ice hockey player
- Geddy Lee, musician
- Gordon Lightfoot, folk singer, songwriter
- Jan Narveson, educator
- Mordecai Richler, author
- Jeffrey Simpson, journalist
Governor General's Order of Canada site