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

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

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

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read