Gord Downie, Tragically Hip members to receive Order of Canada
All 5 members of the Tragically Hip will receive the Order of Canada, Gov. Gen. David Johnston announced Thursday.
The Tragically Hip frontman, Gord Downie, will be appointed a member of the Order of Canada “in recognition of outstanding Indigenous leadership” at Rideau Hall on Monday in Ottawa.
Sylvia Maracle, the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), will be appointed an officer of the Order of Canada “for her leadership in shaping the urban Indigenous experience and for her efforts to promote the well-being of Indigenous peoples across Canada” during the same ceremony.
According to the office of the Governor General, Hip members Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair will receive their insignia at a later date.
The Hip said on Twitter the band was “honoured” to be receiving the Order of Canada.
In a statement, the OFIFC congratulated Maracle on her appointment to the Order of Canada.
“This honour is most deserved, and recognizes the significant advancements Sylvia has made for urban Indigenous peoples over the past 40 years. The Friendship Centre movement in Canada would not be the same without her,” OFIFC Board Chair Susan Barberstock said in the statement.
Maracle, a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is known as a passionate advocate for urban indigenous peoples and women’s issues.
“It is a true honour,” Maracle said in a statement. “My hope is that this award continues to keep the issues of urban Indigenous people at the forefront of our national dialogue. There is still so much work to do.”
WATCH: Gord Downie is overcome with emotion during an AFN ceremony.
In May 2016, Downie revealed he had been battling incurable brain cancer since December 2015. Shortly after, The Tragically Hip announced a 15-show tour in celebration of their latest studio album Man Machine Poem.
Following the Hip’s tour, Downie released a solo album and graphic novel dubbed Secret Path, which tells the story of a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who died from hunger and exposure trying to escape from a residential school near Kenora, Ont.
Chanie Wenjack’s death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools, where students were subjected to abuse, neglect and “re-programming” that has since been deemed cultural genocide.
In December, the Assembly of First Nations honoured Downie at an emotional ceremony for his work on reconciliation where his was given a star blanket and received the name Wicapi Omani or “walks with the stars.”
“Gord Downie is shining a light on the inequality experienced by indigenous peoples,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde said during the ceremony. “Today, we lift up and honour Gord Downie, whose words and music have introduced millions of Canadians to the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who has come to represent the thousands of children subjected to the Residential Schools system, just one of the many who was taken from his family never to see them again.”
The Order of Canada is one of Canada’s highest civilian honours which recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Shortly after Downie’s cancer reveal, a “Let’s honour Gord Downie with the Order of Canada” Change.org petition was started by the Central Ontario Broadcasting company in honour of the Kingston, Ont. native.
“From his songwriting to environmental activism, Gord Downie embodies what it means to be Canadian,” reads the petition. “Along with all The Tragically Hip band members, he’s had a profound impact not just on the world of music, but on Canadian culture as well.”
The petition has over 75,000 supporters to date.
-with a file from Chris Jancelewicz and The Canadian Press.
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