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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie budget: City council amends tax rate for 5 percent increase

Councillors also walked back a proposed 20 percent operational funding grant to community groups

The Peach is adhering to the mandatory mask protocols put in place by the Provincial Health Officer on Nov. 19. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Interior Health doesn’t echo B.C.’s daily COVID record

80 new cases reported Thursday, April 8, compared to 91 the day prior

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie budget meeting tonight

City council will be discussing community feedback to the proposed budget tonight

LTC nurse Limin Liu, right, takes a selfie as registered nurse Sasha Vartley, left, vaccinates her with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Fernie COVID-19 cases creep up for fourth week in a row

13 new cases were identified between March 28 and April 3

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

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

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read