Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is seen in his office at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is seen in his office at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Medical and public health experts make list of new additions to Order of Canada

Each join one of the nation’s highest honours that since 1967 has added more than 7,000 names

It was near the end of June that Dr. Vivek Goel decided to give up his job as vice-president research at the University of Toronto to make whatever contribution he could as a public health physician.

The founding president and CEO of Public Health Ontario, created after the SARS outbreak in 2003, has since advised the university’s president on COVID-19 and served on the federal immunity task force.

In a year marked by COVID-19, where public health professionals were front-and-centre, it seems fitting that Goel would be among the 59 additions to the Order of Canada.

Each join one of the nation’s highest honours that since 1967 has added more than 7,000 names.

“For me, it’s really important for my contributions to be recognized on behalf of everyone working in public health, as well, because people working in public health tend to be more invisible,” Goel said, before adding, “except when they’re on the daily news conferences.”

Among the names made public Wednesday by Rideau Hall are science journalist Yanick Villedieu; opera singer Daniel Taylor; philanthropist Sally Horsfall Eaton; Louise Mailhot, who was the first woman appointed as a judge to the Quebec Court of Appeal; and John Borrows, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria.

Elder Carolyn King from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation has likened the Order of Canada to the eagle feather she received from her community.

Now, she joked, she has both honours with Rideau Hall noting her years of efforts to educate the non-Indigenous population about Indigenous culture, issues and history.

Her latest effort is The Moccasin Identifier project aimed at helping students learn about and mark culturally significant Indigenous sites and traditional territories.

“That’s how we change the world,” King said.

Dr. Jacalyn Duffin received an appointment for her work as a medical historian. From the late 1980s until her retirement from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., three years ago, she was a history professor and practicing doctor.

Now she is updating her history textbook, including the portion on pandemics that explains how COVID-19 follows a narrative structure similar to past episodes, as well as a book solely on COVID-19.

“It’s very hard to be writing a history of what is today the future a month or two away,” Duffin said. “But that concept of the structure of an epidemic is in my mind and it’s helping guide me as I write.”

The narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic is well known since the first lockdowns in March, impacting the bottom line of businesses, charities and non-profits.

Restrictions have loosened and tightened since, requiring major philanthropic organizations to adapt to support organizations that were retooling in the face of COVID-19.

“Canada was was hunkering down and bracing ourselves with what was before us and institutions like our family foundation had to be there,” said Andrew Molson, who heads the the Molson Foundation.

“We were flexible and open-minded about what the institutions that we support were going to do during these really tough times.”

Andrew is one of two Molsons being appointed to the Order of Canada for their community work. The other is his brother Geoff Molson, CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.

“We have a big responsibility to maintain an important name in the country and that could be through business, community, or society in general,” Geoff Molson said. “As long as we continue to do that, the name will remain important in our country.”

Meanwhile, scientists from around the globe raced to develop a vaccine, the first doses of which being administered in Canada in recent days.

The breakneck speed of development caught Helen Burt by surprise.

Burt has spent 40 years as a pharmaceutical scientist, looking for ways to better deliver life-saving drugs. Her research is somewhat related to the technology behind the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Key to the delivery of the vaccines approved for use in Canada is protecting their genetic material known as messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, that trains the body to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Burt called the speedy development of the vaccine an attestation to science and scientists.

“It really has been such an incredible year to have been a pharmaceutical scientist to just have seen what can be accomplished when such a global machine takes off,” she said.

ALSO READ: B.C. reports 74 COVID deaths over Christmas holiday break; total number of cases tops 50,000

But the pandemic isn’t over.

And what happens next is of interest to Goel.

After the pandemic is firmly in the rear-view mirror, Goel said he’s concerned the country will forget about the importance of public health agencies who may see budgets cut as as governments hit deficit-reduction mode.

“What I really hope for is that as we come out of this, public health will not become invisible again,” he said.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Order of Canada

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate Nina Bumstead. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Grad ceremony proceeds, with a twist

Red carpet outside works out well for Chemainus Secondary’s Class of 2021

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Chemainus street signs now contain Hul’qumi’num translations, like this one at the corner of Willow and Legion Streets. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Street signs go up in the Hul’qumi’num language

Chemainus intersections feature direct translations

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read