Honoured for their innovation, compassion
Three Alberta residents humbled to be among new members of Order of Canada
In addition to celebrating the end of a difficult year, some 61 Canadians have another reason to be thankful this week, as they embrace their new status as members of the Order of Canada.
Three people from Calgary and area are now among the prestigious list of more than 7,000 Canadians honoured for shaping “our society; whose innovations ignite our imaginations; and whose compassion unites our communities.”
Frances Wright of Calgary, Larry Macdonald of Okotoks and Art Bergmann of Rocky View County were all humbled by the news they'd been honoured.
Wright has been an advocate for equal rights and vulnerable groups at home and across the country for decades, and was also named to the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2019.
“It's very humbling to be told you're a recipient of the Order of Canada and yet it's very empowering,” she said. “I appreciate so much receiving this recognition but, really, it's a recognition for my family and friends who've helped me with all the projects over the years, so it should say to Frances and friends.”
As an immigrant, who came to Canada from South Africa as a child, she said she's more proud to be Canadian every day.
“I just really feel compelled to contribute to Canada … I'm so grateful to be a Canadian,” she said. “Canada provides lots of opportunities for discussing key issues and considering them and making changes, and I think this past five years in Canada's history has really opened us up for a spectacular future while we come to grips with the residential schools, sexual abuse, racism.”
Macdonald, 73, a business and community leader in Calgary since the 1970s, has also been a volunteer with the United Way for more than 30 years.
“It was a wonderful feeling because it turned a kinda crappy year into a really good year for me,” he said of receiving the news.
“My wife and I have got more out of (volunteering) than we put in because we've met so many wonderful, like-minded people that like to help others, and we've helped a lot of young people.”
Macdonald and his wife are currently involved in a project with United Way affiliate Canada Gives Across Borders, and have a goal of teaching 3,000 children in Ghana to read.
Bergmann said he was surprised when he got the call.
“It was strange and nice at the same time,” he said, laughing.
Bergmann, a punk/rock singer and songwriter and once a member of the group Young Canadians, was instrumental in developing a vibrant and underground punk scene in Canada in the '70s and went on to be a key figure in alternative rock in the '80s and '90s across the country.
Many of Bergmann's songs highlight issues around mass incarceration, the legalization of drugs and treaty rights. He's currently working on his latest “venture,” which discusses the fall of the world's empires of misogyny, genocide and continuous colonization.
“I hope that perhaps someone might hear this and stick to their guns,” he said. “You won't make any money at it but you'll get a little pin to wear on your shoulder that says you stood up for your beliefs and stuck to your integrity.”
The honour, bestowed by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, will not be presented during an in-person ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa for the new year, as is customary, but will be scheduled once public health measures allow.