Nfld. & Labrador

Alan Doyle, Joyce Churchill awarded Order of Canada

Both were recognized with one of the country's highest civilian honours at a ceremony at Rideau Hall Thursday.

They are among 7,000 Canadians who have received the honour over the years

Alan Doyle, right, and Joyce Churchill are the latest Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be invested into the Order of Canada. (Carol McDonald)

One is a well-known musician with a penchant for supporting multiple charities and the other is a decades-long advocate for the autism community — and both of them, who hail from Newfoundland and Labrador, have been bestowed the Order of Canada at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Alan Doyle and Joyce Churchill are two of the 45 Canadians invested in the order Thursday for their outstanding achievement and dedication to community at an event presided over by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

"I'm feeling pretty cool. I got to meet Marc Messier again today and a bunch of other outstanding Canadians ... it's just a real thrill and a very humbling feeling," Doyle told CBC News Network's Suhana Meharchand after the ceremony.

Alan Doyle proudly shows off his medal during an interview on CBC News Network. Former NHLer Mark Messier, who was also invested into the Order of Canada, can be seen in the background. (CBC News Network)

Doyle is one of "Newfoundland's most beloved musical ambassadors," according to Rideau Hall.

Former frontman for Great Big Sea and now a solo artist, Doyle has channeled his star power and helped raise money for charities like the Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Red Cross, with the latter organization awarding him its Humanitarian Award in 2016.

That same year, he helped organize a multi-venue charity concert that featured 30 acts in downtown St. John's, raising $40,000 that went to a Red Cross effort to help people affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Doyle is one of the founders — along with Dr. Andrew Furey and Brendan Paddick — of A Dollar a Day Foundation, which launched in February. It challenges people to donate "small change to work for big change" when it comes to mental health and addictions programs and support.

Born in Petty Harbour, Doyle has credited his parents for instilling in him the importance of helping others.

"I'm really grateful to be from there and I'm grateful to all my friends and family who still live there," he said, giving a shout-out to his parents, siblings, wife and former Great Big Sea bandmates Bob Hallett, Sean McCann and Darrell Power.

Alan Doyle is all smiles while shaking hands with Gov. Gen Julie Payette during the Order of Canada ceremony Thursday. (CBC )

Doyle had high praise for Payette, a former astronaut, who he met years ago, recalling how she attended one of Great Big Sea's shows and presented the band with a plaque of its record Play.

"[That record] was one of a dozen that she was allowed to take into space. She took our tunes into space!" Doyle exclaimed.

"What a rock star ... she is such a great role model for all of us."

Joyce of all trades

Joyce Churchill, who hails from Portugal Cove-St. Philips, has worn many hats over the years. She is hailed by various groups as being a champion for families dealing with medical and other challenges.

Joyce Churchill is greeted warmly by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette upon being invested into the Order of Canada. (CBC)

She is a founding member of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, moved to get involved as her son has the disorder, according to a biography from Rideau Hall.

She's credited with being a driving force in the creation of the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John's. It's dedicated to programming and education for individuals, families affected by autism, and people who work with them.

The community garden provides food for local food banks and for the cafe at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism, which Churchill is credited as being a driving force. (Krissy Holmes/CBC)

In addition to being a nurse, Churchill also served as mayor of Portugal Cove-St. Phillips for four years in the 1980s.

In 2012, she was honoured with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award and inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2013.

With files from Jeremy Eaton and CBC News Network

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