They Desire a Better Country / Ils désirent une patrie meilleure (2017)

The Order of Canada in 50 Stories / L'ordre du Canada en 50 histoires

Published by Figure 1 Publishing

To celebrate the Order of Canada’s 50th anniversary in 2017, the Rideau Hall Foundation commissioned this exceptional book with the aim of encouraging Canadians to learn about some of the remarkable individuals who have garnered this prestigious award. 

I had the honour of being chosen by the Governor General of Canada to do all of the original photography for this book.  

David Johnston 

Ottawa, Ontario 

Governor General of Canada

“Johnston has gained a reputation for energy, keen intelligence, discretion, fairness, and leadership. In academe, he was viewed as a builder and innovator. Right from the start in his mandate as Governor General, Johnston declared his vision of “a smart and caring nation,” one that supports children and families, reinforces innovation and learning, and encourages philanthropy.”

Louise Arbour

Montreal, Quebec

Canadian lawyer, prosecutor and jurist

Arbour was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. From 2009 until 2014, she served as President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. She made history with the indictment of a sitting head of state, Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milošević, as well as the first prosecution of sexual assault as the articles of crimes against humanity.

“In an interview in 2015, Arbour decried the arrogance of Western countries trying to impose “universal” values on other nations, oblivious to the suspicions that they create in a post-colonial world. Hard experience has taught her that justice, peace, and human rights cannot all be imposed at once.” 

Dr. Julio Montaner

Vancouver, British Columbia

Founder of current UN endorsed HIV/AIDS treatment & Pulmonary specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver

“Few can say they change the world every day. Julio changes the world everyday," says Dr. Graydon Meneilly, head of the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. “In Vancouver, Dr. Montaner adapted his father’s multiple drug approach to the management of his HIV/AIDS patients - and was completely taken aback by how well it worked. Not only were his patients staying alive, they ceased to be infectious. What came to be called “treatment as prevention” revolutionized the care of HIV/AIDS patients in BC, and around the world, and dramatically changed the impact of the disease. In 2014, the UN formally endorsed Treatment as Prevention as the roadmap to end HIV/AIDS as a public threat by 2030.” 

Joseph Gosnell 

New Aiyansh, British Columbia

Distinguished Leader of Nisga’a People

“His uncle had returned from a hunting expedition with a grizzly bear and, after prying open the creature’s jaws he instructed Joseph to put his head inside. “When you grow up,” he said, "you will be like this bear. You will fear no one, you will not back away, you will defend and guard what is yours-with your life.” It seems there was some truth in that prophecy. Gosnell grew up to become a distinguished leader of the Nisga’a people, serving first as a board member of the Native Brotherhood of BC and then as president of the Nisga’a Tribal Council before leading the decades-long negotiations that finally led to the signing of the landmark Nisga’a Treaty of 1998 that brought self-government to the First Nations people of the Nass River Valley.”  

Guy Laliberte

Montreal, Quebec

Founder of Cirque du Soleil

“No one had seen anything like it. Here was a circus, but minus the animals. Here was theatre, but without words. The daring acrobatics, the air of mystery, the live musicians, the dramatic lighting, the costumes and special effects - all appealed. “We’re happiness merchants,” Laliberte once said, “giving people the opportunity to dream like children.”  

Carmen Campagne 

Montreal, Quebec

Children’s Entertainer

“Organizers expected some four thousand spectators, but twelve thousand showed up, and the show was delayed for several hours as traffic snarled. “There was a field full of strollers,” Campagne remembers…” Afterwards, she spent more than three hours signing autographs and posing for photographs with the children. The day offered a true measure of the singer-songwriter’s star power and her enormous appeal to francophone children and their parents.”  

Roberta Jamieson

Ohsweken, Ontario

Former Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, former Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario, former Ontario Ombudsman & President / CEO of Indspire Charity

“A Mohawk woman from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory - was the first Indigenous woman in Canada to earn a law degree and the first woman to be elected chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She was also the Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario, and served ten years as Ontario’s first female Ombudsman. Roberta Jamieson understands that reconciliation with Indigenous peoples will not be easy. “Change doesn’t just happen,” she has said. “It takes work, but it is achievable if we work together to make it happen.” 

David W. Schindler

Brisco, British Columbia

Professor of Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta

“The brilliant and outspoken David Schindler is no ordinary scientist. His groundbreaking research has led to significant changes in our government’s handling of water and earned him a reputation as a skilled communicator of science who does not mince words. In 2012, Schindler slammed the research used to support the development of the rapidly expanding Alberta oil sands: “Both background studies and environmental impact assessments have been shoddy, and could not really even be called science.” He was equally scathing when he lamented “the disregard for treaty rights” associated with oil sands development.”

Edith Cloutier

Montreal, Quebec

Executive Director of the Native Friendship in Val-d'Or Quebec &

President of the Quebec Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

“In 2015 Cloutier played a key role in the events that led Aboriginal women living in Val-d’Or to file complaints against police officers… for sexual and physical abuse. Cloutier takes the position that the case in Val d’Or, set against the context of the broader issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country, points to systemic racism. To not act, she argues, is to be complicit. Edith Cloutier was once asked about how to advance the cause of Aboriginal people in the face of indifference. “I have worked with small dreams, small projects, one at a time,” she replied. “I was nourished by hope because even though we advance a little at a time, we do not retreat.””

Gilles Kegle

Quebec City, Quebec

Street Nurse & Founder of  Foundation Gilles Kegle

“He has been called a saint, the Mother Teresa of Quebec, a model of humanism, and our national social conscience. He has also been called a giant - though he is little more than five feet tall. He is, in fact, a humble street nurse dedicated to the dispossessed. “The street is my church,” says Gilles Kegle, “love is my religion.””  

Geraldine Braak

Powell River, British Columbia

Former National President of the Canadian Council for the Blind

“Nicknames often reveal character. Consider, for example, the ones attached to Geraldine Braak, the phenomenally hard-working advocate not just for the blind, her own constituency, but for all disabled people in Canada. When Braak attended high school in her native Netherlands in the 1950s, she aspired to be a lawyer - the kind who would help people, especially the underdogs. She did not achieve this ambition, but friends called her “Little Lawyer” for her extraordinary ability to see all sides of an argument and to arbitrate recess disputes.” 

James Weisgerber

Regina, Saskatchewan

Bishop of Saskatchewan, Archbishop of Winnipeg & President of the Canadian Conference of Bishops

“What we need is to get to know each other, our lives, our culture, and our histories. Such efforts require courage, risk-taking, perseverance, and patience, but there is no other road. The Residential Schools and their legacy are seen by so many of the Aboriginal Peoples as a major cause of much of their suffering. They need to have this story told and they need the story to be heard…” Weisgerber played a key role in organizing a meeting in 2009 at the Vatican between a Canadian delegation from the Assembly of First Nations and Pope Benedict XVI. The pope expressed his sorrow at the anguish caused by “the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church” who had worked in the residential schools.”

Ian Stirling 

Edmonton, Alberta

Former research scientist emeritus with Environment Canada & adjunct professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences 

“Stirling has conducted groundbreaking research on the ecological relationships between polar bears, seals, and sea ice for more than forty years as a research scientist with Environment Canada and as an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. Stirling’s research...underscores how climate change affects polar bears. He fears that unless climate change is halted, half the polar bear populations in the north will disappear in coming decades. “We have changed the Arctic in huge ways,” he says, “and that has been a very sad thing to document.””

John Stanton

Edmonton, Alberta

Founder of Running Room

“He is the guru of recreational running in Canada, with a long list of marathons, triathlons, and Iron Man competitions on his resume along with a host of awards - including one from the Canadian Medical Association for promoting health and motivating a million Canadians to join walking or running programs.” 

Jean Vanier 

Trosly-Breuil, France

Founder of L’Arche (an International Federation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities) 

“Jean Vanier invited two intellectually challenged men to live with him in a house he had bought…That invitation changed both his life and the lives of many others. Vanier would eventually name his house L’Arche, which is French for “ark” or “refuge,” but also means “bridge” - as in a bridge that connects heaven and earth. Today there are fifty such communities in forty-seven countries around the world.”  

Lise Watier

Montreal, Quebec

Founder of Lise Watier Institute & President of Lise Watier Foundation

“Since her company was sold in 2016, Watier and her family have dedicated themselves to the Lise Watier Foundation, created in 2009. Its mission is to direct funds to organizations across Canada for specific programs aimed at helping women become financially independent. “The key to a better life for women,” she once said, “often takes place through financial independence.””

Mary Boyd 

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island 

Founder of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, Former Director of Social Action in the Diocese of Charlottetown & Chair of P.E.I. Health Coalition

“Mary Boyd is remarkable for her faith. She believes that if enough of us champion social justice, then poverty, and the infrastructures that perpetuate poverty, will crumble…”Poverty,” she laments, “is just not on the radar when governments are making decisions about budgets.” What Boyd has long advocated is an idea finally gaining traction: a living wage for every Canadian citizen.” 

Janet Rossant 

Toronto, Ontario

President of Gairdner Foundation, Professor at University of Toronto, Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network & Fomer head of SickKids Research Institute

“For women who either aspire to great things in science or who look to find role models they can emulate, Janet is one of those people.” - former President & CEO of SickKids, Mary Jo Haddad

“Forty years of work on mouse embryos have landed Rossant right in the thick of stem cell research that holds the promise of regenerative medicine (the ability to grow a new heart or pancreas) and personalized medicine (medicine tailor-made to match individuals’ needs)- thanks to what she calls “the power of the cell.””  

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