Nuns inducted into Order of Canada

  • December 18, 2008
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Two nuns, the founder of the Reform Party and the first Reform Party MP were inducted into the Order of Canada at a Rideau Hall ceremony Dec. 12.

They chose to receive Canada’s highest civilian honour, despite the controversy over abortionist Henry Morgentaler’s appointment last July 1 that has led about a dozen Canadians, including Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte , to return their awards. Earlier this month  the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate — Assumption Province returned the Order of Canada honouring two of its deceased members.

“I was overwhelmed to be named to the Order of Canada,” said Sr. Margaret Vickers, who received the honour for her lifetime service in Catholic health care as a nurse administrator. “It was a very humbling experience.

“At the same time I thought it brought an honour to our community, the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception and to my family and friends as well as to all my co-workers.

“I was asked several times to return my reward,” she said in a telephone interview from Vancouver where she now lives after serving in three New Brunswick hospitals run by her community. “But like Jean Vanier, I feel the award was not just for me but for everyone who touched my life during my journey. I can’t judge who receives it or who doesn’t receive it.”

Vickers said a letter Vanier, founder of the worldwide L’Arche communities, wrote to the father of a disabled son that was published in the Nov. 29 Globe and Mail influenced her decision. Vanier wrote that he saw the award as an honour to his community and that he wanted his life to be a witness to the “importance and value of all life and particularly the life of people whose disabilities are apparent before birth.”

The other nun who was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada was Sr. Jeanne d’Arc Bouchard, C.Q., a nurse who devoted her life to helping those addicted to alcohol and drugs, founding the first structured hospital-based program in Quebec. Bouchard created and ran the Saint-Antoine unit at the Roberval hospital for 22 years.

Retired politician Deborah Grey, who was the first Reform MP in the House of Commons, and who served as Interim Leader of the Opposition, was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada, the second highest honour. She played a key role in the uniting of the Canadian Alliance — the new name for the Reform Party — and the Progressive Conservative parties.

She disagreed with Morgentaler’s receiving an award.  “I’m really glad my mother didn’t go see Dr. Morgentaler,” she said, pointing out her mother had given her the greatest gift of all — life.

“I didn’t like that he got the same honour and award,” she said.  “There may be lots of people who disagree with my award as well.”

Preston Manning, the founder of the now defunct Reform Party, received the highest honour as a Companion of the Order of Canada.  Among the 46 individuals honoured Dec. 12 was hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter Gretzky for his wide-ranging volunteer activities for various charities.

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