Author Joseph Boyden among those appointed to the Order of Canada

OTTAWA -- Joseph Boyden, the award-winning author whose work vividly documents the complexity of Canada's indigenous history, is among the latest appointments to the Order of Canada in a year when aboriginal issues have dominated the national agenda.

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Boyden, whose novels include Three Day Road and The Orenda, joined 68 other people recognized Wednesday by the Governor General with one of the country's highest civilian honours.

In its citation, Rideau Hall said Boyden was being recognized for his contributions to telling stories of "common heritage" and for his social engagement "notably in support of First Nations."

The novelist, who also served as an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission studying Canada's painful residential school legacy, said he believes the arts are a powerful tool to help repair fractured relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

"I have come to realize that I think art is the way to allow Canadians to begin to understand in a way that is manageable at first for them to understand something of such huge pain," he said in an interview.

"We can lecture all we want about the ongoing intergenerational trauma but those words sometimes don't sink in.

"I think stories, I think novels, I think film, I think dance, I think painting, all of this allows Canadians to absorb not just the pain and the anger but the beauty as well."

Several other members of Canada's arts community were honoured Wednesday, including Noreen Taylor, who founded one of Canada's major literary prizes, Winnipeg painter and sculptor Ivan Eyre, Quebec musician Diane Dufresne and Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival.

Other recipients include former Prince Edward Island premier and senator Catherine Callbeck, former privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and House of Commons clerk Audrey O'Brien.

Nominations for the Order of Canada are reviewed by an independent council chaired by the chief justice of Canada. Individuals are appointed on merit to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Rideau Hall has been actively working to ensure its honours reach more Canadians. Earlier this year, Gov. Gen. David Johnston flagged two areas of particular concern for the Order of Canada: gender and regional representation.

Spokesperson Emily Keogh said females make up 46 per cent of the latest appointees. A previous list released in July had 44 per cent of female appointments -- a bump from the average of 31 per cent between 2010 and 2014, she noted, adding there is there is also "great diversity" among the recipients including filmmaker Atom Egoyan and author Rohinton Mistry.

The honour still hasn't sunk in for Boyden.

"It is something you hear about all your life as one of the great gifts given to Canadians of note," he said.

"I guess I have to now consider myself a Canadian of at least some little note."

Here is a look at some of the promotions within the order and the new appointments:

Companions

Atom Egoyan, Toronto: a promotion within the order for his groundbreaking contributions to film as an internationally respected filmmaker and for his commitment to mentoring and showcasing Canadian artists.

Angela Hewitt, London, U.K. and Ottawa: promotion within the order for her transformative interpretations of the piano repertoire, which have brought new life to the genre before a global audience.

Officers

Julie Dickson, Ottawa: the former Superintendent of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, for her leadership in the development of financial regulation in Canada and around the world.

Nassif Ghoussoub, Vancouver, B.C.: for his scientific contributions to the study of differential equations, and for advancing mathematics research and education in Canada.

Dany Laferriere, Montreal: for his contributions to the vitality of the literary world as an internationally renowned author.

Jennifer Anne Stoddart, Montreal: for her international leadership in privacy rights and for her exemplary public service as the privacy commissioner of Canada.

Mary Anne White, Halifax: for her contributions to chemistry, which have advanced our understanding of the thermal properties of materials, and for her leadership in science outreach initiatives.

Members

Joseph Boyden, New Orleans, La., and Ahmic Harbour, Ont.: for his contributions as an author, who tells stories of our common heritage, and for his social engagement, notably in support of First Nations.

Laura Brandon, Ottawa: for her contributions to uncovering and preserving Canadian war art, and for bringing it to the attention of national and international audiences.

Catherine Callbeck, Central Bedeque, P.E.I.: for her contributions to the citizens of Prince Edward Island as a former politician and senator, and as a business and community leader.

Robert Campbell, Sackville, N.B.: for his contributions to academia as an authority on postal services and as president of Mount Allison University.

Antoni Cimolino, Stratford, Ont.: for his contributions to Canadian theatre as an actor and director, notably through his leadership of the Stratford Festival.

Joseph Z. Daigle, Dieppe, N.B: for his contributions as a jurist and lawyer, notably for increasing access to justice for Francophones in his province.

Rollande Desbois, Montreal: for her contributions to the dissemination and evolution of Quebec's culinary culture, notably through her teaching and writing.

Odette Heyn and Faye Thomson: Winnipeg: for their contributions to contemporary dance in Canada and to the development of the next generation of dancers.

Rohinton Mistry, Toronto: for his acclaimed work as an author of international renown.

Audrey O'Brien, Ottawa: for her contributions to democracy as a senior administrator with the House of Commons for over two decades.

Richard Weber, Alcove, Que.: for his pioneering acts of polar exploration and for his efforts to increase awareness of environmental threats to the North.



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