Gov. Gen. Julie Payette has made 103 new appointments to the Order of Canada, a list that includes business leaders, authors, theatre directors, athletes and Indigenous leaders.
Among those named to the level of Officer of the Order of Canada (the second of three levels) are the actress, author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald. She is being recognized not only for her contributions to the arts but also for her advocacy of LGBTQ+ and women’s rights.
MacDonald has written several plays but is perhaps best known for her work as an author. Her 1997 book Fall on Your Knees, following the lives of four sisters from Cape Breton Island, was named to Oprah Winfrey’s book club.
“I am deeply honoured. I feel it is a grave honour,” MacDonald told. “It’s truly a serious honour and I am humbled and I wish my father were alive to see it — he passed away a year ago. He would have loved this. Although I actually think he is completely aware of it.”
“It’s actually deeply meaningful to me. I am a thoroughgoing Canadian. My mother’s people were immigrants, my father was Royal Canadian Armed Forces. I’ve grown up benefiting from public support for the arts. I live in a community that is diverse. I am a married lesbian, I’ve got two daughters. I just feel that there are so many things that are very, very right with our country.”
MacDonald said if her award could draw attention to all the things that Canada has going for it in a world that seems to be leaning more and more toward populism and the alt-right, she would be honoured.
Christopher Newton, the longtime artistic director of the Shaw Festival, is also being appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to live theatre.
Newton retired as artistic director in 2002 after 23 years and is credited with helping Shaw secure its place as a world-class theatre festival with the clout to attract top talent every year.