Order of Canada honourees include Bob Rae, Graham Greene, Lawrence Hill

The man who helped create the BlackBerry, the CEOs of two provincial public broadcasters, a noted First Nations actor and a former Olympic medallist are among Canadians being appointed to the Order of Canada.

RIM co-founder Fregin, public television advocate de Wilde also being honoured

Former Liberal leader and Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae, seen in 2014, was among those announced on Wednesday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The man who helped create the BlackBerry, the CEOs of two provincial public broadcasters, a noted First Nations actor and a former Olympic medallist are among Canadians being appointed to the Order of Canada.

Rideau Hall's Canada Day announcement allows those on the list to share the news of the honour, which is usually a closely guarded secret until Gov. Gen. David Johnston makes the information public.

This year's notable names include Douglas Fregin, the man who co-founded Research in Motion with Mike Lazaridis. Fregin designed the first circuit board the company used to run early versions of its wireless technology, and then helped choose the materials that are still found in BlackBerry devices around the world.

Lawrence Hill has wanted to write about displaced persons since visiting West Berlin in the 1980s. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Lazaridis's wife Ophelia is also being invested as a member of the Order of Canada for her philanthropic work around Waterloo, Ont., where BlackBerry is based.

Author Lawrence Hill will be recognized for his writing to tell the stories of Canada's black community, notably through the critically acclaimed Book of Negroes, and advocacy work on behalf of women and girls in Africa.

Oscar-nominated and Gemini award-winning actor Graham Greene is a familiar face in films, television shows, and theatre productions in Canada and overseas. The First Nations actor is being honoured for "achievements as a pioneering and versatile actor," which included a 1991 Academy Award best supporting actor nomination for his role in the film Dances with Wolves.

Don Tapscott, author of The Digital Economy and Chancellor of Trent University, told CBC News he is surprised and humbled by the honour. (The Leigh Bureau)
Don Tapscott follows in his wife Ana Lopes's footsteps as a member of the Order of Canada. He was named for his work on "the economic and social impact of information technology." Lopes became a member in 2012.

Tapscott says we're moving into a new kind of economy that's based on knowledge and networking and says, "it's heartening the Governor General has recognized in this way that this transformation is important."

The announcement came as a surprise to him but he told CBC News he's very proud and humbled.

Also being honoured are TVOntario CEO Lisa de Wilde for "transformative leadership" at the provincial public broadcaster, and Tele-Quebec counterpart Michele Fortin for her "contributions to the vitality of French-language and educational television."

Rideau Hall says there will be 100 new appointments to the Order of Canada, with one being a promotion to the highest level — former Ontario premier and Liberal MP Bob Rae is being invested as a companion — while the other is an honorary appointment for Johan Olav Koss, an Olympic speed skating champion from Norway.

Koss, who lives in Toronto, founded Right to Play, an advocacy group for children in sports.

Pioneering stem cell researcher Dr. Janet Rossant, chief of research at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, is also being honoured.

Janet Rossant, chief of research at the Hospital for Sick Children, seen in this undated handout photo, was also the recipient of another accolade earlier this year. (Hospital for Sick Children/The Canadian Press)
Earlier this year, Rossant was the recipient of the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, which honours a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

Other notable sports names on the list are Olympic curling champion Russ Howard, former Olympic diver and Pan Am Games medallist Beverley Boys and Fran Rider, who was instrumental in making women's hockey what it is today on the international scene.

Rider, who lives in Toronto, is already in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame for her work founding the first IIHF women's hockey tournament two decades ago, as well as the first Canadian national women's hockey championship in 1982.

Barbara Turnbull will be honoured posthumously. Turnbull, left a quadriplegic as a teen in a convenience store robbery shooting, went on to become a celebrated journalist and advocate for the rights of the disabled. She died in May at 50 from complications related to pneumonia.

The list outlines those who have been selected for the Order of Canada based on their achievements as authors, medical researchers, social advocates, business leaders, or politicians.

Graham Greene, seen in a file photo, has over 100 film and television credits to his name, with Dances With Wolves among the most notable. (CTV-HO/CP)
Three former politicians are being recognized for their life in politics, including former Alberta finance minister Jim Dinning and former Quebec finance minister Monique Jerome-Forget. Joyce Fairbairn, a former Liberal senator and literacy advocate, resigned from the Senate in 2012 after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

The Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours, was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Over the last 45 years, more than 6,000 people from all walks of life have been invested into the order.

With files from CBC News


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.