Gord Downie appointed to Order of Canada

The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, an advocate for First Nations people, was appointed to the Order of Canada on Monday during a Rideau Hall ceremony honouring leadership in Indigenous issues. Along with acknowledgment as a musician, Downie was hailed for his social activism — namely his devotion “to promoting dialogue, raising awareness of the history of residential schools and moving the country along the path to reconcilation.”

Gord Downie’s Secret Path leads to legacy project in honour of Chanie Wenjack
​Chanie Wenjack: a 50-year-old tragedy rises up to inspire a new generation

Downie’s recent solo album and graphic novel Secret Path tells the story of an Ojibwe First Nations boy, Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 while trying to escape a residential school. Mobile users: View the document

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With files from The Canadian Press Writer and theatre actress Julie Pellissier-Lush. Downie, who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, has become a strong advocate for Indigenous people. David Johnston, who bestowed the Order of Canada insignia on the singer-songwriter. ​Downie was among 30 people who received the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division), the Polar Medal or the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers for their leadership in supporting Indigenous issues. Gen. More than 2 dozen honoured at Rideau Hall
Attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and other dignitaries, Monday’s ceremony featured performances by Indigenous singers and included a moving speech by Métis actor Tom Jackson, an officer of the Order of Canada. (CBC)

Other arts figures honoured included:

Children’s and youth author Jacqueline Guest. Actor, activist and former MP Tina Keeper, Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director André Lewis and the late Mary Richard for creating the ballet Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation. Striking a unique figure in a denim jacket, jeans, a jaunty hat and boots for Monday’s ceremony, Downie rose from his seat slowly and warmly embraced Gov. Johnston greets documentary filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and her son as she receives the Meritorious Service Cross at Rideau Hall. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, documentary filmmaker and director of Angry Inuk. 

​Downie’s Tragically Hip bandmates Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair — also appointed members of the Order of Canada — will receive the honour at a later date.