Three individuals with connections to York University are among 21 new appointees to the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour for individual excellence and achievement in any field. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will bestow the honour upon the newest appointees during an investiture ceremony at Queen’s Park on March 11.
An internationally recognized social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert, York alumna Mary Gordon (BA ’84) has created programs informed by the power of empathy. She founded Roots of Empathy, recognized as one of the top evidence-based social and emotional learning programs by the George Lucas Foundation’s Edutopia. Having reached close to a million children, Roots of Empathy was described by Roman Krznaric, cultural historian and founder of Empathy Museum London, as “the world’s most effective empathy teaching program.” Gordon is also the founder of Canada’s first and largest school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which she initiated in 1981. They have become public policy in Ontario and have been used as a best practice model internationally. Gordon speaks and consults to governments, educational organizations and public institutions. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation brought Gordon to South Africa to share her parenting expertise. Gordon has also consulted with and presented to the World Health Organization, the Skoll World Forum, and the United Nations, among others.
The first Black woman elected to the House of Commons and an honorary York University alumna, Jean Augustine (LLD ’11) served as a member of parliament and cabinet minister from 1993 to 2006. She has contributed to Canada’s official multiculturalism policy and the Metro Toronto Anti-Drug Strategy, and served on boards in the areas of education, health care, and housing. York University recognized Augustine with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2011.
A successful businessman and champion for the LGBTQ+ community, Salah Bachir (LLD ’15) is the co-founder of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. York University recognized Bachir with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2015.
Each of these individuals has previously been appointed to the Order of Canada as well.
“Members of the Order of Ontario exemplify, individually and collectively, the best qualities of good citizenship,” said Dowdeswell. “Through their voluntary service, creativity, and the relentless pursuit of excellence, they demonstrate how we in Ontario are working to build a more just and sustainable future.”
Past members of the York community to be appointed to the Order of Ontario include former York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, broadcaster Isabel Basset, pianist Anton Kuerti and community advocate Madeline Edwards.
A total of 706 people have been invested with the Order of Ontario since its establishment in 1986. Appointments to the Order are made on the recommendation of an independent advisory council based on nominations put forward by the public. The nomination deadline for the 2020 Order of Ontario is March 31. Additional information can be found on the Ontario government’s Honours and Awards website.