On Manitoba Day, 11 people have been selected to be invested into the highest honour in our province – the Order of Manitoba.
Among them – trucking magnate Paul Albrechtsen; former Winnipeg mayor Susan Thompson, former NHLer Reggie Leach; Chief Betsy Kennedy, the longest-serving female chief in Manitoba; and Ebola researcher Dr. Gary Kobinger.
Dwight MacAulay, the secretary of the Order of Manitoba Advisory Council, says the recipients come from many different fields.
“The Order of Manitoba is designed to recognize individuals who either live or have lived in the province of Manitoba at one point who have made really amazing contributions, and it can be in a variety of fields, whether it’s philanthropy, science, education, culture, the arts, you name it,” he said.
MacAulay says recipients need to be nominated first.
“Nominate someone you know who has done an outstanding thing in their community, in their field. Go to the website of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and there’s a nomination process there,” he said.
An independent advisory council then selects the honourees from those submissions. They can recommend up to 12 candidates per year.
Recipients will also use the initials O.M. after their names for life.
The investiture ceremony will take place July 7 at the Legislature.
Paul Albrechtsen: a trucking magnate, business leader and philanthropist. Founder of one of the leading bulk transport services in Western Canada, the Paul Albrechtsen Foundation has benefited many organizations including the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, which now bears his family name.
Marileen Bartlett: a Métis woman, community leader and entrepreneur, she has dedicated more than 30 years to leadership in the field of Indigenous employment and training. She is also a firm believer that equitable access to education and training are essential to equitable participation by Indigenous people in the economy.
Maria De Nardi: the daughter of Italian immigrants, has contributed to the enrichment of Italian culture in Manitoba and was a founder of the Lupa di Roma Sons of Italy organization. She was instrumental in creating the Manitoba chapter of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and also co-founded a wholesale food distribution business serving Western Canada.
Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal: past president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba (2003 to 2013) who introduced many leading-edge advancements in the prevention, rapid diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He also increased rural patients’ access to cancer care and treatment through enhanced regional cancer centres.
Chief Betsy Kennedy: the longest-serving female chief in Manitoba, became chief of the War Lake First Nation in 2006. She has overseen the development of many health, environmental and economic additions to her community.
Dr. Gary Kobinger: one of the world’s leading researchers in the global fight against Ebola. As chief of the special pathogens program at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, he has been deployed to Africa several times as part of a mobile lab team to fight Ebola at its origin, helping to reduce the risk of it spreading to Canada.
Wanda Koop: one of Canada’s pre-eminent contemporary artists and community activists, who, for more than 40 years, has made a substantial contribution to Canadian art. With more than 50 solo exhibits worldwide, she also founded Art City, offering free art programs for inner-city youth.
Reggie Leach: despite enduring racism and poverty as a child, ‘The Riverton Rifle’ went on to become one of the most gifted hockey players of his generation. With 13 seasons in the National Hockey League, he was named to the all-star team in 1976 and 1980, and also played for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament.
Bernadette Smith: best known for her dedication to pursuing justice for Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous girls and women. She is a leader in her community and across Canada.
Susan Thompson: the first and only woman mayor of Winnipeg who saw the city through its largest crisis in 100 years, the flood of 1997. She was also the first woman consul general at the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis and the founding president and CEO of the University of Winnipeg Foundation.
Wanbdi Wakita: a Dakota spiritual leader, residential school survivor and a veteran of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry peacekeeping mission in Europe. Most recently, he has spent more than 30 years working as an elder in federal, provincial and territorial prisons, and has devoted his life to teaching and healing the relationship between First Nations and non-First Nations people.