Order of Canada awarded to 4 Sask. residents

The new appointments to the Order of Canada have been announced and four of them are from Saskatchewan.

Fred Sasakamoose, Harold Orr, Karim Nasser and Vianne Timmons honoured

The Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest civilian honours. (Governor General of Canada)

The new appointments to the Order of Canada were announced Friday and four of them are from Saskatchewan.

Harold Orr and Karim Nasser are from Saskatoon, Vianne Timmons is from Regina, and Fred Sasakamoose is from Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation.

The Order of Canada recognizes Canadian citizens who have made outstanding achievements, are dedicated to the community or have served the nation. In total, there were 125 new appointments to the Order of Canada. 

Karim Wade Nasser is a philanthropist who has supported many causes, including education, health care and the arts.

Vianne Timmons is a leader in post-secondary education and has served as the president of the University of Regina since 2008.

"With this appointment comes added responsibility," she said in a press release, "because many of Canada's longstanding ideals – inclusiveness, tolerance and mutual respect – seem to be increasingly under threat. My hope is that as an Officer of the Order of Canada, I can continue to advance and promote these ideals for the next generation of Canada's leaders, on whom we will depend so much in the years to come."

Fred Sasakamoose: First Indigenous NHL player

Frederick Sasakamoose has been recognized for being the first Indigenous player in the NHL and his continued work promoting sports. 

Fred Sasakamoose became the first Indigenous hockey player in the NHL when he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. (Doug Steele/CBC)

Sasakamoose said receiving the award was a great honour, but he said it's an award he shares with everyone who helped him on his journey. That includes his grandfather, who taught him to skate, on a lake, with bob skates over his moccasins. And a priest at the residential school who told him "someday, Freddie, I'm going to make a champion out of you." And his mother, who encouraged him to leave home to play hockey.

"They were a part of my life, even now," he said. "It's beautiful. I share it with them."

He said he plans to continue his work promoting sports in Indigenous communities, and even though he's 84 years old, he's "not about to lay down."

"The Indian people and Métis people are ready to participate in the Olympics, and put our children, our players, in sports. To put them into the showcase of this world ... we must participate. If we are to try and improve our situation in our communities, then we have to participate in this world."

Harold Orr: Energy efficiency pioneer

Harold Walter Orr pioneered energy-efficient home-building in Canada. He is one of the original engineers of the Saskatchewan Conservation House built in Regina in 1977.

Harold Orr is one of the engineers who worked on the Saskatchewan Conservation House built in Regina in 1977. (CBC Saskatchewan)

He's won many awards for his work, but he said he wasn't expecting this one.

"It almost floored me," he told CBC. "I wasn't expecting this at all."

Orr said he was inspired to do his work in energy efficient home design through growing up on the prairies in the 1930s.

"When I was going to school in public school somebody had to get up in the middle of the night to put coal on the fire otherwise we'd be cold in the morning," he said.

At the University of Saskatchewan, he got more technical with his concerns, studying air leakage in homes.

Further research led to progressing the idea of passive solar design, which helps homes retain heat from the sun through structural design.

He only wishes there were more passively energy efficient homes in Saskatoon today.

"Everybody should be building the equivalent to the passive house," he said.


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.