Order, Order! |
Twain, six Nova Scotians among success stories honoured with prestigious Order of Canada
By STEPHEN THORNE - The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - Shania Twain has auctioned off many of her awards for charity, but this one she’ll keep.
Hailed for a legendary rags-to-riches saga that has inspired millions, the country singer from Timmins, Ont., led a parade of Canadian success stories to Rideau Hall on Friday to receive the Order of Canada.
She was joined by speed skater Catriona Le May Doan, environmentalist Elizabeth May, chocolatier David Ganong and former Ontario lieutenant-governor Hilary Weston, along with 38 others.
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean made the presentations, which included 18 officers and 25 members of the order recognizing people who have made a difference to their country.
"The rags-to-riches story of Canadian superstar Shania Twain has become legendary," said the citation making Twain an officer.
The citation said Twain was instilled with a strong sense of pride by her family, despite living in poverty. Even as a child, it said, music played an important role in her day-to-day life.
"Today, she enjoys enormous success, yet she remains true to her roots," said the citation.
"Dedicated to eliminating child hunger, she supports a number of food distribution agencies like food banks and breakfast programs in schools."
Twain has won Grammys, Junos and Country Music Association Awards, but on Friday she was clearly humbled by what she called "a life-changing experience."
She said sharing the stage with physicists, environmentalists, artists, activists and researchers fostered "a better understanding and a greater pride in the people of Canada."
"I was surprised, and I was very humbled," Twain said afterward. "I’m not sure it’s somewhere I belonged. I’m not even sure I’m quite deserving."
She said she will always cherish the red-and-white medal as something more than an award, something that acknowledges her contributions not merely as a performer but as a Canadian.
Le May Doan of Calgary was invested as an officer after winning two Olympic golds, volunteering and acting as a role model.
She has retired from skating and now has been awarded the country’s highest civilian honour. Where does she go from here?
"I have to go home and see my 18-month-old and she’ll test my patience some more," she said.
She had no problem retiring from competition because she said she felt sport had given her so much, now it was my time to give back.
May of Halifax, invested as an officer, is now head of the Sierra Club of Canada, but she spent many years in the trenches before becoming an internationally respected voice for Canada’s environmental movement.
She wept at the end of the ceremony as she thought of her mother, Stephanie May, also a social activist.
She said she is humbled by the fact that friends in other countries who have fought many similar battles as she has have been jailed and even killed, while in Canada she would receive the country’s highest honour.
"It makes me extremely humbled and also aware of the fact that as Canadians we take the civility and the democracy and the respect for individual human rights and tolerance and everything that makes us Canadian for granted."