GG awards Order of Canada to 37 people

Governor General Michaëlle Jean named 37 Canadians to the Order of Canada Friday because of their contributions to the county.

Retired general Lewis MacKenzie, former senator Jean-Robert Gauthier among honourees

Governor General Michaëlle Jean awarded 37 Canadians with the Order of Canada on Friday.

The ceremony in Ottawa awarded citizens for their contributions to the country and presented them with one of Canada's highest honours.

Lewis MacKenzie, a retired general and writer, was among those named members of the order. MacKenzie was awarded for his work in the Canadian Forces and in peacekeeping missions abroad. He's won praise both in Canada and abroad for participating in numerous charitable organizations.

Former senator Jean-Robert Gauthier was also appointed a member of the orderfor helping to establish language rights and promoting language issues for more than thirty years.

Other honourees include journalist Michele Landsberg, photographer Edward Burtynsky and medical researcher David Naylor, all named officers of the order.

Fifteen officers and 22 members of the order were named. No one was nameda companion of the order, the highest honour.

The Order of Canada was established 40 years ago to recognize Canadians who have made a contribution to the country. Twice a year, an advisory committee selects a group of notable Canadians and the Governor General presents the award.

Three different levels of recognition

Although only members and officers were named at Friday's ceremony, there are three levels of recognition.The significance of the nominee's contribution to Canada is the determining factor for the level of membership.

Canadians who have contributed to a particular community, group or field of activity can become members of the order, the lowest honour. As many as 136 Canadians may be appointed as a member each year.

The middle level is officer of the order, a recognition of a lifetime of achievement, especially in service to Canada or to all of humanity.A maximum of 64 are appointed each year.

The highest honour is companion of the order, which recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement. This is awarded to only 15 Canadians each year, and there can't be more than 165 living companions. At past ceremonies, Rick Hansen and Joni Mitchell were appointed companions.

More than 5,000 Canadians have received an Order of Canada since it was established.