On December 29, Governor General Mary Simon announced the news that 24 members of the U of T community were named to or promoted within the Order of Canada. A total of 135 members were appointed to the Order or given an Order promotion in Simon’s announcement. 

The Order of Canada was established in 1967 and is considered to be one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, aiming to recognize people who have made exceptional contributions to shaping Canadian society. 

Over 24 U of T community members were appointed in 2019, and 39 received the award in 2021. The Varsity broke down the work of a few of this year’s recipients. 

Public health

Professor Sharon Straus, the first woman physician-in-chief at St. Michael’s Hospital, was honoured for her contributions to the fields of mentorship in epidemiology and knowledge translation — the process of disseminating scientific knowledge to improve the health of Canadians. She is also in the top one per cent of cited clinical researchers recognized by the Web of Science, a subscription-based database service. 

Straus’ recent work has focused on the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care. Straus is also a long-time advocate for health equity and has co-authored over 500 articles that address a wide variety of issues in health care. 

From the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Professor Gregory Marchildon was also appointed to the Order for his contributions to and research in health care policy in Canada. 

From 1994–2000, Marchildon served as a senior public servant in Saskatchewan. In 2001, he became the executive director of the Royal Commission on the Future of Healthcare in Canada. In 2017, he also established and founded the North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. 

Professor Eleanor N. Fish, from the Department of Immunology in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, was appointed for her research on the use of interferon-alpha in treating diseases. Fish, a U of T alumna, is also a senior scientist at the University Health Network’s Toronto General Research Institute. 

An internationally recognised scholar in the field of occupational therapy, Professor Helene Polatajko of the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine was recognised for her contribution to broadening the understanding of developmental coordination disorders in children. 

Other faculty and alumni

Other faculty members to receive the award include Professor Michael Patrick Collins from the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, who was appointed for his research on reinforced concrete. This research explores novel approaches in designing structures in ways that prevent their collapse. 

Liona Boyd, a graduate from the Faculty of Music, was honored for her contributions to music. She is a classical guitarist, has won five Juno Awards, and has released 28 albums of classical, folk, and world music. 

A graduate of U of T’s Faculty of Information, Patricia Feheley was appointed for her promotion of Inuit art and culture and her contributions to the art scene in Canada. She is currently the director of Feheley Fine Arts and a board member of the Cultural Human Resources Council and Canadian Eskimo Arts Council. 

Other alumni members appointed include Sandra Chapnik and Barbara Landau from the legal sector; Pradeep Merchant, Evelyn Forget, and Carol Tator in philanthropy and social justice; and Gerald Freisen and Murray Sinclair for their contributions to the Indigenous community.