Gord Downie was awarded the Order of Canada in a Rideau Hall ceremony in June; the rest of his iconic Canadian band received this honour last week.
Downie, who had announced last year that he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, became a strong advocate for Indigenous people. The order was given to him in recognition of his music and social activism at a Rideau Hall ceremony honouring leadership in Indigenous issues in June.
Then-Governor General David Johnson bestowed the Order of Canada on Downie for his devotion “to promoting dialogue, raising awareness of the history of residential schools and moving the country along the path to reconciliation.”
Announcing the award of the Order of Canada to the remaining members of The Tragically Hip, the Rideau Hall said, “The Tragically Hip has been one of Canada’s most beloved rock bands for over 30 years. From hockey to history, the band’s lyrical references to Canadian topics created a sense of what it’s like to love—and live in—this country. The band’s place in the heart of our music scene is reflected in its numerous accolades and its legions of devoted fans.”
The November ceremony was star-studded. Long-time Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and Emmy-award winning comedian David Steinberg—along with 40 other preeminent nominees—were present to receive one of Canada’s highest honours.
November’s honorees join an elite club of 6,897 Canadians who received the Order of Canada since its inception in 1967. Nominations for the Order of Canada come from Canadians across the country, and are reviewed by an independent body which then makes recommendations to the Governor General.
The Latin inscription upon each snowflake insignia of the Order of Canada says Desiderantes meliorem patriam—“They Desire a Better Country.”