On December 29 last year, over 30 University of Toronto faculty members and alumni were named to or promoted within the Order of Canada. The order is the second highest honour a Canadian citizen can receive, behind the Order of Merit, and it is the highest that is limited to only Canadians.

U of T’s Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr told The Varsity that she was impressed with the representation of U of T community members receiving the Order of Canada — they counted for approximately 26 per cent of the 125 people named to the order.

“One thing that is very clear is that we have absolutely astounding faculty, staff and alumni,” wrote Regehr. “This recognition highlights the incredible quality of people here at the University of Toronto, people who are associated with The University of Toronto, and the impact that our staff, faculty and graduates have on our community, on Canada and on the world.”

There are three levels to the Order of Canada: the lowest level is Member, which recognizes those who have greatly contributed to their local or regional community; the second level is Officer, which recognizes national achievements; and the highest honour is Companion, which recognizes international achievement or national pre-eminence.

Professor Molly Shoichet was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions to the field of biomedical engineering, as well as her efforts to advocate for more women in science and to promote scientific literacy.

Another notable appointee was poet and author Lee Maracle, an instructor at U of T’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and an Elder at First Nations House. She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada “for her influential voice in cultural relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.” Maracle has written multiple novels and short story collections.

“Lee Maracle is a really valued member of our community. She has been engaged for many years here at the University of Toronto and she has a real leadership role with the university in assisting us and adhering that indigenous voices are heard, and helping us make the university a better place for indigenous students, staff and faculty and in linking us with our community,” wrote Regehr.

U of T alumnus Bernard Sherman, Chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc., was also named as a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions in the pharmaceutical industry and philanthropy work. Sherman provided support for children’s education and other notable charitable causes. Unfortunately, Sherman passed away on December 15 and was unable to receive this honour himself.