Alanis Obomsawin and Mitch Garber were among more than 16 Quebecers and nearly 80 Canadians whose achievements were recognized by the Order of Canada on Thursday.Obomsawin has been here before. In 1983, the Abenaki filmmaker was named a Member of the Order of Canada for her engaged documentaries about the Indigenous experience.In 2002, she graduated to Officer of the Order of Canada; and now Obomsawin is set to become a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest rank of the Order under the Governor General.Obomsawin is one of five Companions announced by the Governor General on Thursday, alongside Indigenous singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie of Saskatchewan and Montreal mathematician Robert Phelan Langlands. Also named were 21 Officers, one Honorary Officer and 57 Members.Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know there were different ranks,” Obomsawin said, reached at her office at the National Film Board. “So when this person phoned to tell me, I said, ‘There must be a mistake, I’ve already received it.’ She said, ‘No, this is higher.’“I said, ‘Wow, that’s incredible.’ It’s very touching. I just wonder if I deserve it.”Obomsawin, 86, is working on her 53rd documentary in 53 years, Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger, about a boy who lived his life in a hospital until he died at age five.Recognition or no recognition, life goes on for the filmmaker. But she’ll take it. And to receive it at a national level is especially sweet.“Canada is many things, but certainly it’s a very beautiful country,” she said, “with a lot of good people in it. I’m very happy I’ve lived this long to see so much recognition of our people, especially in the last 10 years, more so the last five years.”Part of the thrill of the Order of Canada is being part of a vast and varied group of individuals, each with their own amazing accomplishments, Obomsawin explained.“It’s always very moving to go there and to see the recognition they have for Canadians all over the country. It reinforces the fact that there are good people everywhere.”
Mitch Garber says he was left speechless when he was informed that he had been chosen to become a Member of the Order of Canada. Garber is seen here in a January file photo.
Montreal Gazette /
Mitch Garber has had great success in business, but he was left speechless when he received a call from the Governor General’s office informing him that he had been chosen to become a Member of the Order of Canada.“That doesn’t happen to me often,” he said of being at a loss for words.He attributes his good fortune to “a fluke of birth, and my luck that my great grandmother when she fled oppression in Eastern Europe in the early 1900s and chose Canada. I had the good fortune of being born as a third generation male in Canada in 1964, as opposed to many other places in the world, where the deck was stacked in my favour.”Garber has founded and run various companies, is a chairman and investor in Cirque du Soleil, a minority owner of the new Seattle NHL expansion team, and is part of a group trying to bring the Expos back to Montreal. He is also an avid philanthropist along with his wife, Anne-Marie.The Order of Council appointment cited his entrepreneurial contributions as well as his “philanthropic commitment to education, health and culture.”“These are the kinds of things you don’t try to get,” he said of the distinction. “You just do what you do, and if you’re recognized, great. But it’s certainly nice.”Dr. Hanna Pappius is an Emerita Professor at McGill University and a retired neurochemist at the Montreal Neurological Institute, where she worked for more than 50 years.Becoming a Member of the Order of Canada is a thrill for the Polish immigrant, who arrived as a war refugee in 1940 at age 15, finished high school at Sacred Heart and studied at McGill, receiving her Ph.D in 1953.“I’m very proud, and satisfied,” Pappius said of the honour. “I certainly didn’t expect it. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to work in an institution which has done tremendous things in the field of neurochemistry.”Other Quebec honourees include: actor Rémy Girard, who became an Officer of the Order of Canada alongside lawyer James A. O’Reilly; and Members Renée April, costume designer; Dr. Renaldo Batista; vertebrate paleontologist Robert L. Carroll; filmmaker Fernand Dansereau; mechanical engineer Claire Deschênes; actor Michel Dumont; chef Jean-Paul Grappe; Judge Joseph Robert Nuss; choreographer and dance teacher Linda Rabin; and former Expos pitcher, broadcaster and coaching staff member Claude Raymond.For more information, visit email@example.com/TChaDunlevy