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Punk rock, heart transplant and Paralympic Games trailblazers among Albertans appointed to Order of Canada

A sports scientist who helped create the modern Paralympic Games, a doctor who conducted breakthrough research on heart transplants for babies and a musician who played a pivotal role in Canada's punk scene are among the seven Albertans who received Order of Canada appointments on Wednesday.

7 Albertans among the 61 latest Order of Canada appointments

Robert Steadward of Edmonton, a longtime advocate for disability sports and the founding president of the International Paralympic Committee, was appointed as a companion to the Order of Canada. (Submitted by Robert Steadward)

A sports scientist who helped create the modern Paralympic Games, a doctor who conducted breakthrough research on heart transplants for babies and a musician who played a pivotal role in Canada's punk scene are among the seven Albertans who received Order of Canada appointments on Wednesday.

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of Canada's highest civilian honours and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. 

Appointments to the three levels — members, officers and companions — are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the advisory council for the Order of Canada.

Robert Steadward of Edmonton was promoted to the highest of the order's three levels, a companion of the order, after being appointed an officer in 1998.

Steadward is a now-retired sports scientist who was instrumental in the creation of the modern Paralympic Games and served for 12 years as the founding president of the International Paralympic Committee.

"When I got this little email that I'm supposed to call someone in the [Governor General's] office, gosh, I felt like I was at school again being called to the principal's office," Steadward said.

"Your heart races, your mind starts to wander and you just try to think what, why, when and where and all of that. So it really was a very special moment in time for me."

Another of the Albertans appointed was celebrated singer-songwriter Art Bergmann, who was recognized for what the Governor General's office calls his "indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities."

Rock singer Art Bergmann, who lives in Rocky View County, is being honoured for his 'indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities.' (Lisa MacIntosh photo/Submitted by Art Bergmann)

"It's humbling. And I want to know who did this to me," said Bergmann, who lives in Rocky View County.

Bergmann made his mark on Vancouver's punk scene in the 1970s and 1980s as a member of multiple bands, including the K-Tels, which was subsequently renamed the Young Canadians. He has since written songs and published albums as a solo artist and won a Juno Award for Best Alternative Album in 1996.

Bergman is known for his sharply political, anti-establishment lyrics. He said he wants to divert any publicity generated by his appointment toward pressuring the federal government over its failure to provide adequate housing and clean water to First Nations. 

"There's a few things that have gone wrong in Canada … [and] me not having an award for my work is not one of them," said Bergmann. "Honour the treaties, give the First Nations water and housing and thank you very much, Canada — a work in progress."

Normally, the Office of the Governor-General holds four investiture ceremonies yearly, where about 40 appointees are presented with symbolic medals, said Rob McKinnon, a spokesperson for the office.

He said in-person ceremonies are on hold for the time being because of the pandemic. McKinnon said a virtual ceremony could still happen, but there will be no details until sometime in the New Year.

Here is the full list of the Albertans who were appointed Wednesday:

Companions of the Order of Canada

  • Robert Daniel Steadward (Edmonton): For his lifelong dedication to propelling the Paralympic movement forward on a global scale. This is a promotion within the order.

Officers of the Order of Canada

Dr. Lori West, who works at the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (seen in blurred backdrop), was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada for her leadership in the field of organ transplantation and donation, notably for her breakthrough research in infant heart transplantation. (From left, Guillermo Ch/Google Streetview; University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Lori Jeanne West (Edmonton): For her leadership in the field of organ transplantation and donation, notably for her breakthrough research in infant heart transplantation.

Members of the Order of Canada

  • Arthur Frank-Art Bergmann: (Rocky View County): For his indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities.
  • John W. Brink (Edmonton): For promoting and preserving Blackfoot culture through his roles as archeologist, curator and author.
  • Father James Lassiter Holland (Edmonton): For his dedicated service to Indigenous communities in Edmonton and for his commitment to reconciliation and inclusion.
  • Larry J. Macdonald (Okotoks): For his business and community leadership, and for his long-time commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy.
  • Douglas R. Stollery (Edmonton): For his wide-ranging contributions to Canada's legal landscape, for his defence of human rights, and for his broad community involvement.
  • Frances Elizabeth Wright (Calgary): For her lifelong promotion of equal rights and for her advocacy of vulnerable and under-served groups.

To see the full list of the latest Canadians honoured with New Year's appointments to the Order of Canada, see: Trailblazing women, rock singer, former chief among new Order of Canada appointments

With files from the CBC's Ryan Patrick Jones and the Canadian Press.

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