A founder of an Indigenous film school. A creator of distinctively queer ceramics. A welder of large steel sculptures. And a patron behind the first major art-therapy pavilion in a Canadian art museum.
These are some of the most recent members of the Order of Canada. Governor General Julie Payette announced 103 new appointments to the order on December 27 to honour “people whose service shapes our society; whose innovations ignite our imaginations; and whose compassion unites our communities,” as a release puts it. Several artists and arts supporters are among them.
Shirley Cheechoo of M’Chigeeng First Nation has already received more than 20 awards and recognitions for her feature films, television movies, documentaries and short films. The residential school survivor has also worked in theatre and visual art, and founded the Weengushk Film Institute dedicated to helping Indigenous youth to learn filmmaking. Cheechoo is also chancellor at Brock University.
Maxine Noel of Stratford is receiving the order for “her unique work in visual arts and for her advocacy of the creative expression of Indigenous communities,” says the Order of Canada release. Besides working for decades in painting and printmaking, Noel, who was born on the Birdtail Reserve in Manitoba and is also a residential school survivor, has been involved with Native Earth Performing Arts, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation and the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts. Her work is included in the collection of the Canadian Museum of History, among others.
Léopold L. Foulem of Montreal makes ceramic work that exemplifies a “queer baroque,” as one Gardiner Museum exhibition title put it. Originally from New Brunswick, Foulem was the first artist from Atlantic Canada to win the national Saidye Bronfman Award in craft in 2001. He was also one of the first Canadian ceramicists to have his art collected by the Victoria and Alberta Museum in London, UK. His work is in more than 20 public collections internationally.
John McEwen of Toronto is being recognized for “his avant-garde sculptural artworks, large-scale artistic compositions and mastery of weathering steel,” says the Order of Canada release. His public artworks include Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light (1998) outside of the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, The River as Thread/the Canoe as Needle (2005), which hangs in the entrance of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, and Weaving Fence and Horn (2002) at 1st Street and 4th Avenue NW in Calgary. McEwen is also a co-founder and former director of A Space Gallery in Toronto.
Michel de la Chenelière of Montreal was recognized for his contributions to French-language publishing, as well as his philanthropic endeavours which include the creation of the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal in recent years. The MBAM calls it the largest educational complex in a North American art museum.
Georges Henri Goguen of Moncton is being recognized “for his role as a pioneer of modern art in Acadia and for his dedication to developing and promoting the visual arts,” says the Order of Canada release. Goguen studied art in the 1950s under Alex Colville and Lawren P. Harris at Mount Allison University, as well as later at Parsons School of Design in New York. Once his art practice was underway, he helped found Galerie Sans Nom and Galerie 12 in Moncton, and also became active in national and regional artist associations.
Ann McCain Evans of Florenceville-Bristol is has been on the board of directors of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, as well as a director of the McCain Foundation, which has supported multiple initiatives and exhibitions at the Beaverbrook. McCain Evans has also been involved with several charities and non-profit organizations outside the arts proper.
These are just some of the most recent appointees to the Order of Canada. A ceremony for appointees will be held in Ottawa at a later date.