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Order of Canada awarded to U of T faculty, alum

(photo by Sgt. Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall)

On the eve of Canada Day, 99 new names have been added to the Order of Canada, including the Prince of Wales, actor Mike Myers and TV host Alex Trebek, as well as a number of people connected to the University of Toronto.

The new appointees were announced by Gov. Gen. David Johnston Friday morning. They include several members of the U of T community whose remarkable contributions to their country have been recognized this year with one of Canada's highest civilian honours. 

Several people with U of T connections were named officers, the second highest rank within the order. Joseph Arvay was named for his contributions as a prolific litigation lawyer in the field of public law. In 2012, he was appointed U of T’s Asper Centre’s inaugural constitutional litigator in residence. Public Health Professor Abdallah S. Daar received the honour for his involvement in research and the promotion of global public health initiatives. Denis Daneman, a professor in the department of paediatrics and paediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, was recognized for his leadership at SickKids and clinical research on childhood diabetes. And Mary Eberts, who served as a constitutional litigator-in-residence at U of T in 2014, became an officer for her advocacy and leadership to advance women’s rights.

Many more members of the U of T community were named members of the order, which was created in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Dionne Brand, a poet, writer, filmmaker, educator and activist, was recognized for contributing to Canadian literature and poetry, as well as promoting awareness of gender studies and intercultural relations. An alumna of both U of T and OISE, she has taught at several universities in Canada and the U.S., and published several volumes of poetry, including Land to Light On, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 1997.

Cathy Crowe’s appointment is the result of lifelong advocacy for marginalized and vulnerable people through her work in public health, education, writing and film. In 1998, Crowe, who prefers to go by the title of “street nurse,” co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TRDC), a group whose first act was to declare the state of homelessness a national disaster.

Peter B. Dent, a McMaster University professor emeritus and graduate of U of T’s medical school, was named a member for his contributions to improving children’s health as a medical educator and hospital administrator, and through community service.

George Myhal joined the ranks for his achievements in investment and finance, and in particular, his support for innovation in engineering. He was a key donor to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering's new flagship building, the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A graduate of the university's industrial engineering program, Myhal and his family came to Canada from Western Ukraine in 1958. He served a decade on U of T's Governing Council and is now being recognized for his achievements as an investment and finance leader, and for his philanthropic contributions. The CEO of Partners Value Investments has said he owed his education to the government of Canada, and it's a debt he's never forgotten. 

Engineering alumnus Bert Wasmund was commended for his contributions to the Canadian mining industry. A world-renowned leader in metallurgical plant engineering and design, he has backed many research partnerships between Hatch, a Canadian firm serving the global mining and metallurgical industry, and U of T.

Lorne Waldman has practiced exclusively in the area of immigration and refugee law since 1979. He holds a master's of law from U of T and has been appointed a member for his commitment to upholding justice.

Gail Erlick Robinson, a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology at U of T, and Sharon Lynn Walmsley, a professor of U of T's Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, were named members. Robinson, director of the Women’s Mental Health Clinic, is being recognized for her pioneering contributions to women’s mental and physical health and advocating for professional regulations in health care. Walmsley is receiving the honour for advancement of HIV/AIDS research that has led to a broader understanding of the disease’s effects on women as well as to improved treatment options.

These are just a few of the alumni and U of T-affiliated individuals named to this year's order. Please let us know about other U of T-connected appointees at UofTnews@utoronto.ca.