Six Alumni And One Professor Named To The Order Of Canada

[Piers Handling receives his Queen's honorary degree]
Piers Handling receives his Queen's honorary degree.

When it comes to receiving major honours, June was a good month for Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) CEO and alumnus Piers Handling, Arts’71. The history grad received an honorary degree from his alma mater during spring convocation. A few weeks later he was made an officer of the Order of Canada.

Mr. Handling is one of six Queen’s alumni to be named to the order. The others are:

  • Isabel Bassett, Arts’60
  • Harriet MacMillan, Meds’82
  • Michel Picher, Law’72
  • Deborah Poff, Artsci’77
  • Glenda Yeates, Artsci’80, MPA’81

Queen’s political studies professor John McGarry was also honoured for his work in conflict resolution. During his nearly three decade academic career, Dr. McGarry’s work has helped shape public policy discussions in politically divided places such as Iraq and Northern Ireland.

“The Order of Canada is evidence that members of our alumni community are among Canada’s top leaders and innovators. Our campus is a place that help develops the future leaders of our country,” says Queen’s University Alumni Association President Sue Bates, Artsci’91.

Ms. Bassett is a former teacher and journalist who went on to serve as an MPP in Ontario, becoming the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. She also served as CEO of TVOntario.

Dr. MacMillan is a psychiatrist and pediatrician who is being honoured for her leading research in helping to preventfamily violence. She is currently a professor in McMaster University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and the Department of Pediatrics.

Mr. Picher is a labour arbitrator who has worked for the National Hockey League, Canadian Football League and Major League Baseball. He is being honoured for his work to improve labour-management relations in Canada.

Ms. Poff has had a number of academic leadership roles, including president of Brandon University, VP of University of Northern British Columbia. She is being honoured for her academic endeavours as well as her efforts to promote educational opportunities for Indigenous people.

Ms. Yeates is a champion of Canadian health care. She is the former Deputy Minister of Health Canada and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Health Information. She also sat on the boards for Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and Carleton University.

Mr. Handling is in charge of TIFF, which is one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. When he was on campus last month to receive his honorary degree, he told the Queen’s Gazette that his university experience changed his life. He came to study history but left as a passionate film lover.

“I fell in love with cinema here (at Queen’s) and I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with cinema anywhere else,” he said. “It was just the climate here, the environment here. My friends were in drama, my friends were in film. I was attracted to them. I don’t know if that alchemy would have existed in another university.”

The Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, was established in 1967 by Queen’s alumnus and Member of Parliament John Matheson, Arts’40, LLD’80. He said the Tricolour Society at Queen’s served as a model for the Order of Canada.

The Order of Canada recipients will be honoured at a ceremony with Governor General David Johnston, Law’66, later this year.