New Brunswick

Bathurst-born BBC correspondent 'overwhelmed' by Order of Canada appointment

A well-travelled journalist was one of six New Brunswickers announced as new members of the Order of Canada by the Governor General on Thursday morning.

Lyse Doucet was one of 6 New Brunswickers appointed to the order on Thursday

Bathurst native Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief International correspondent, is one of six New Brunswickers named to the Order of Canada on Thursday. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)

A well-travelled journalist with the BBC is one of six New Brunswickers announced as new members of the Order of Canada on Thursday morning.

Bathurst native Lyse Doucet, the BBC's chief international correspondent, heard about the appointment a few weeks ago, but even with the heads-up, the honour hasn't quite sunk in.

"Will it say something bad about New Brunswickers if it takes us a long time for things to sink in?" Doucet asked in an interview from Vietnam, where she is on assignment.

"Even though I have known then for a few weeks, I'm still … quite overwhelmed by the decision because I think there can be no … greater honour than being recognized by your own country."

​Doucet is already an officer of the Order of the British Empire, a British honour of similar standing to the Order of Canada.  

Hanoi via Youghall Beach

Doucet has reported from Pakistan, Israel, Egypt and India, among other countries, and is now based in Vietnam. (BBC)

Doucet has been a reporter for more than 30 years, and her career has sent her all over the world, far from her northern New Brunswick hometown.

She has reported from Pakistan, Israel, Egypt and India to name a few countries, but she remembers a project she did for her Brownies troop as her introduction to the outside world.

Each member of the troop had to pay tribute to another nation, and Doucet's Brownie leader noticed she was concerned about the country she was assigned.

People used to say the character of the train changes at Montreal going east because it always gets friendlier- Lyse   Doucet , Bathurst native

"She saw that I was a little bit worried that I'd been given the flag of Guatemala and I couldn't pronounce Guatemala," asked Doucet.

"She said to me 'Do you want to change?' … I said 'No, no, no. I must take on this challenge."

Doucet calls herself "quintessentially" New Brunswickan, and her home province is never far from her mind.

"My first visit to Vietnam and when I was in Hanoi and I was by the water's edge, I really thought of Youghall Beach," said Doucet, remembering the popular beach in Bathurst.

"I thought 'Oh, this seems familiar.' I realized I was thinking of where I grew up."

Doucet believes the friendliness that small-town New Brunswick instilled in her has been a great asset.

"When I first went to university, first in Kingston at Queen's, then to the University of Toronto, we used to take the train," she said. "People used to say the character of the train changes at Montreal going east because it always gets friendlier," said Doucet.

"I think that's very much part of who I am as a journalist and has very much defined my approach to [journalism.] There's a joke among my producers that you have to tell Lyse to stop smiling."

Existential crisis

Doucet says reporters have to rise to the challenge posed by U.S. President Donald Trump's description of journalists as "the enemy of the people.” (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Doucet's appointment to the Order of Canada comes at a time of peril for the news business as a whole.

While news organizations are still navigating their way through a changing digital landscape, the media in general have  come under attack from some people in power.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly clashed with news organizations and reporters, going so far as to call the media "the enemy of the people."

Doucet said journalism is "facing nothing less than an existential crisis."

"Journalists are being attacked as the enemy of the [people,] journalists are being imprisoned, journalists are being killed," she said.

"If we absolutely believe, and we do, in the importance of journalism to a functioning democracy, to our real need to know what is happening in the world around us … I think journalists have to rise to the challenge, to these threats, to these attacks, to become even better at what we do."

A news release from the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, said Doucet has been appointed to the order "for her commitment to journalistic integrity."

"I don't know whether I deserve the word, but integrity and respect is really what journalism is all about," Doucet said.

"I think it inspires all of us."

Former premier, artist also honoured

Camille Henri Thériault, New Brunswick's 29th premier, was also named to the Order. (CBC)

Other than Doucet, five other New Brunswickers have been appointed to the order.

  • Camille Thériault, former Liberal premier of New Brunswick

  • Ann McCain Evans, philanthropist

  • Georges Henri Goguen, an Acadian artist.

  • Roxanne Fairweather, co-CEO of Saint John based Innovatia Inc.

  • Francis Pang, who helped develop co-operative education between Canadian and Chinese universities

About the Author

Jordan Gill

Reporter

Jordan Gill is a CBC reporter based out of Fredericton. He can be reached at jordan.gill@cbc.ca.