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

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford hotdog-stand owner starts campaign to find kidney donors and recipients

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

The Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Visitors to the resort currently pay a three per cent “hotel tax,” which is brought back to the district to help fund tourism initiatives. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Harrison hoping to expand hotel tax to Kent, parts of Fraser Valley

The expanded area would bring in more money for Tourism Harrison marketing

Dallas Lajimodiere is wanted by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Man wanted by Abbotsford Police domestic violence unit

Dallas Lajimodiere has three arrest warrants, including for assault with a weapon

Subm
Mission art gallery re-opens after 10 months

‘People are in need of some visual things just to take them away’

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns after searing report into workplace culture: reports

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

Brandon Nathan Teixeira, charged in connection with a fatal 2017 shooting in South Surrey, is to return to court Feb. 2, 2021. (File photos)
Pre-trial conference set for accused in 2017 South Surrey killing

Brandon Nathan Teixeira set to return to Vancouver court Feb. 2

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

Most Read