The Order of Canada is a fraternity of merit that was created in 1967 to recognize Canadians who have achieved great things in their communities, in their country, or in the world. Over 4000 people have received the Order of Canada since its inception, and many great Canadians are among their number. These people, as the Order's Latin motto has it, Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam, "desire a better country".
The Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada's national honours system and its characteristics are defined by the Constitution.
- Companions of the Order of Canada have rendered international service or have achieved national pre-eminence. They use C.C. after their names. The total number of living Companions may not exceed 150, and no more than 15 can be appointed in any given year.
- Officers of the Order of Canada have been recognized for their national service or achievement; they use the post-nominal letters O.C. No more than 50 can be appointed per year.
- Members of the Order of Canada have made outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a specialized field of activity, and are permitted to use C.M. Up to 100 Members can be appointed each year.
Anyone may nominate a living Canadian people for the Order; no posthumous appointments are made.
All nominations are reviewed by an august group of Canadians who sit on an Advisory Council convened for this purpose. It is chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada and includes the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Under Secretary of State, the Chairman of the Canada Council, the President of the Royal Society of Canada, the President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and, if the Governor General considers it appropriate, up to two members of the Order.
The Advisory Council meets twice a year to consider the nominations, after which they recommend to the Chancellor of the Order, the Governor General of Canada (currently Adrienne Clarkson), who should be selected. The Governor General is the representative of the Queen of England, who is the Sovereign of the Order of Canada; the Governor General accepts the recommendations in the name of the Sovereign.
Each year just before New Year's Day and Canada Day (July 1) the new appointees are announced, and several months later they are presented with their medals in one of three investiture ceremonies held each year at Rideau Hall, the Governer General's official residence. The ceremonies are broadcast on the deadly dull Canadian Public Affairs Channel, CPAC, which also features endless footage of the Parliament Buildings at our capital, Ottawa, when the government is not in session and rather less frequent footage of shouting politicians when it is.
You too could nominate a great living Canadian for the Order of Canada. Send your nomination to the Chancellery, which is the branch of the Governor General's office which administers Canadian honours. Their address is rather auspicious-sounding
The Chancellery, Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A1
The Governor General's website, www.gg.ca, has nomination forms online which you can use to standardize and expedite the nomination process, as well as a list of all the members of the Order of Canada.
Find lots of interesting background information on the Order at collections.ic.gc.ca/order/.