6 Recipients Invested into the Order of Canada in a First-of-its-kind Virtual Ceremony

December 16, 2020

OTTAWA—Six Canadians made history yesterday when they were invested into the Order of Canada by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, in the first virtual Canadian honours presentation. The online ceremony was organized to present the insignia of the Order to 1 Companion, 1 Officer and 4 Members whose loved ones added a beautiful personal touch by taking an active role in the presentation of the insignia.

Organized in response to public health constraints limiting gatherings, the virtual investiture was the first of its kind in the history of Canadian honours. In-person investiture ceremonies will resume when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, virtual honours ceremonies are being explored as a valuable alternative, in order to recognize excellence in a timely fashion.

About the Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Its Companions, Officers and Members take to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (They desire a better country).

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Close to 7 500 people from all sectors of society have been appointed to the Order. Those who bear the Order’s iconic snowflake insignia have changed our nation’s measure of success and, through the sum of their accomplishments, have helped us build a better Canada.

Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. For more information about the Order of Canada or to nominate someone, visit www.gg.ca/en/honours

The list of recipients with citations and a backgrounder on the Order of Canada are attached. Photos of the event and a short video are available upon request. 


Media information:

Rob McKinnon
Rideau Hall Press Office
343-548-1976 (cell)

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Geoffrey E. Hinton, C.C.
Toronto, Ontario

Geoffrey Hinton was the driving force behind the development of a new form of artificial intelligence. Professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and an engineering fellow on Google’s Brain Team, he pioneered the learning algorithms that allow computers to recognize speech, interpret images and find structure in complex datasets. Known as the “godfather of neural networks,” he has been a mentor to many prominent scientists in the field and has revolutionized the way people interact with technology in their daily lives.


Lorna Wanósts’a7 Williams, O.C., O.B.C.
Victoria, British Columbia

An esteemed member of the Lil'wat First Nation, Lorna Williams is a pillar of Indigenous elementary-to-university education. Professor emerita and the first Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning at the University of Victoria, she is also the first director of the school’s Indigenous education program. She developed authoritative curricula in Indigenous language revitalization by using traditional teaching and learning practices. Her courses were also revolutionary for their inclusion of Indigenous pedagogy, spiritual leaders and knowledge keepers. She has indelibly strengthened language reclamation and revitalization in Canada.


Renaldo Battista, C.M.
Montréal, Quebec

Renaldo Battista is a pioneer in health technology assessment. He distinguished himself as a professor at McGill University and Université de Montréal, then later as scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. Having worn a number of hats over the course of his career, including holding the Canada Research Chair in Health Technology Assessment, he has been instrumental in revitalizing provincial and national health services. As an advisor, he has shared his talents with other countries, helping to raise Canada’s international profile.

Omer Chouinard, C.M.
Moncton, New Brunswick

The son of an inshore fisherman in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Omer Chouinard has dedicated his career to studying local communities and protecting the environment. Professor emeritus of environmental studies at the Université de Moncton, he has piloted several interdisciplinary projects that have been instrumental in protecting ecosystems in the Maritime provinces, particularly in New Brunswick’s watersheds. By raising awareness among a wide range of stakeholders and bridging the gap between the community and academia, he advocates tirelessly for the preservation and reasonable development of natural resources.

Julie Macfarlane, C.M.
Windsor, Ontario

Julie Macfarlane is committed to making access to justice affordable for all. Her activism has resulted in a paradigm shift for the courts. Notably, as founder of the National Self-Represented Litigant Project, she has inspired debate on self-representation and provided invaluable services, resources and education tools to individuals confronting the judicial system. A professor of law and a distinguished university professor at the University of Windsor for more than 25 years, she is also esteemed for her writing on sexual violence and her advocacy for survivors, as well as for her study of Islamic divorce.

The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, C.M., Q.C.
Halifax, Nova Scotia and Ottawa, Ontario

Don Oliver is an African-Nova Scotian lawyer and a trailblazer who broke down the barriers of systemic racism. As a member of the Senate for over two decades, he promoted equality and fairness in parliamentary institutions and the public service of Canada. He also launched a groundbreaking research study on barriers to advancement for under-represented groups that established a sound business case for diversity.  His vision of an inclusive society is shared with new generations through several post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for minorities.


Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours System, and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country.

Motto and Levels

The Order of Canada’s motto is DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (They desire a better country). Her Majesty The Queen is the Sovereign of the Order, and the governor general is the chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order.

Companion – Post-nominal: C.C.
recognizes national pre-eminence or international service or achievement;

Officer – Post-nominal: O.C.
recognizes national service or achievement; and

Member – Post-nominal: C.M.
recognizes outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity.

Insignia Description

The insignia of the Order is a stylized snowflake of six points, with a red annulus at its centre which bears a stylized maple leaf circumscribed with the motto of the Order, DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (They desire a better country), surmounted by the Royal Crown. It is struck in fine silver and is composed of three individual pieces: the snowflake, annulus and maple leaf. The colour is added by hand through a unique application of opaque and translucent enamel.

The design of the insignia of the Order of Canada dates from 1967, and is credited to Bruce Beatty, C.M., S.O.M., C.D. The technical drawings used by the Royal Canadian Mint in this new generation of the insignia were developed by the Canadian Heraldic Authority at the Chancellery of Honours, part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. The insignia is manufactured by the Mint at its Ottawa facility.

Investiture Ceremony

Following their appointment to the Order of Canada, all Companions, Officers and Members are invited to an investiture ceremony, which is normally held in person, and where they are presented with their insignia. Four investiture ceremonies are typically organized each year for groups of approximately 40 appointees.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person investiture ceremonies were postponed indefinitely, which created a list of appointees who had not yet participated in an investiture ceremony. The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General organized a virtual investiture ceremony with six appointees of the Order of Canada as a way to continue to recognize outstanding Canadians in an environment that is compatible with restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All appointees of the Order enjoy public recognition of being a member of the Order from the time their appointment is announced, including the wearing of undress ribbons or devices, miniatures and lapel badges and the use of authorized post-nominal letters.

The typical in-person investiture ceremony is a closed event for the recipients, their family and loved ones. Normally, media are invited to attend investiture ceremonies and may be invited to participate in future virtual investiture ceremonies.


All Canadians are eligible for the Order of Canada, with the exception of federal and provincial politicians and judges while in office. The Order’s constitution permits non-Canadians to be considered for honorary appointments. Members of the Royal Family, governors general and their spouses are appointed in the extraordinary category. There are no posthumous appointments. 

Officers and Members may be elevated within the Order in recognition of further achievement, based on continued exceptional or extraordinary service to Canada. Usually, promotions are considered five years after the first appointment.


Any person or group is welcome to nominate a deserving individual as a candidate for appointment to the Order of Canada. Appointments are made on the recommendations of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, an independent council chaired by the chief justice of Canada. Members of the Advisory Council on the Order of Canada reflect the diversity and excellence in Canadian society. Certain members are appointed by virtue of their office; others are appointed for a fixed term to achieve a balanced representation of the various regions of the country.