By Katie Stewart
Clara Hughes among new
members of Order of Canada
April 8, 2010
OTTAWA — Clara Hughes is no stranger to medals.
As an Olympian in speedskating and cycling, Hughes
has won one gold, one silver and four bronze medals. Canada cheered
her on as she won the bronze for the 5,000-metre speedskating
race at the Winter Games in Vancouver.
However, her most recent accomplishment has nothing
to do with being the fastest athlete.
With a bright smile and tears streaming down her
face, she was recognized for the humanitarian work she’s
done for Right to Play, an organization that brings sport to children
in developing countries.
“This medal isn’t as trying,”
Hughes said, laughing. “I don’t feel as if I’m
going to collapse, and my lungs are going to explode.”
Hughes was one of 43 recipients invested into the
Order of Canada ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday.
“I feel very proud and honoured,” said
Hughes. “I’m still in a state of disbelief.”
The Order of Canada was created in 1967 to recognize
outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service
to the nation. Since its creation, more than 5,000 people have
“You work in a wide range of areas, but what
brings you together is your willingness to help shape humanity
and leave a mark on the world,” said Gov. Gen. Michaelle
Jean as she bestowed the honour to recipients whose careers ranged
from law and politics, to sports and the arts.
“She (Jean) said she was one of my biggest
supporters,” said Willie O’Ree, the first black NHL
hockey player. O’Ree explained that, of all of the memorable
moments in his life — which include the first time he stepped
on the ice as an NHL player in 1968 and when he scored his first
goal, this was No. 1.
“The Order of Canada is the highest award
I’ve ever received in my lifetime,” said O’Ree.
Other notable recipients included Barry Strayer,
who played a principle role in writing the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, and who said he was honoured by the award
as he “feels very attached to this country.”
Marc Kielburger, the co-founder of both Free the
Children and Me to We, which tries to inspire youth to take active
roles in their communities to make a difference, regardless of
their age, was also honoured Wednesday.
“I’m so proud to be a Canadian today
and be surrounded by distinguished people who have spent their
lives dedicated to the public service,” said Kielburger.
“I couldn’t be happier.”