Principal Suzanne Fortier among 17 McGillians appointed to the Order of Canada

Prof. Fortier recognized for “her rich contributions to scientific advancements and innovation in Canada, and for her governance in academia”
On June 29, 17 members of the McGill community were recognized for outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation by being admitted to the Order of Canada. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette (BEng’86, DSc’03), Governor General of Canada, has appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier (BSc’72, PhD’76), an Officer of the Order of Canada. In total, 17 McGill faculty and alumni were among the 105 appointments announced on June 29, including former Dean of Medicine Abe Fuks (BSc’68, MDCM’70), Professor of Family Medicine Yvonne Steinert, Professor of Social Work Cindy Blackstock (M MGMT’03), and alumna and former Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser (BCom’72).

Prof. Fortier was recognized for “her rich contributions to scientific advancements and innovation in Canada, and for her governance in academia.”

“I am thrilled to learn that Suzanne was appointed to the Order of Canada today. I have the privilege of working with the Principal daily and I can think of no one more deserving of this honour,” said Ram Panda (MEng’71, MBA’77), Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors.

“Suzanne brings passion and dedication in her commitment to education and its power to advance Canada globally. This is evident in everything that she does. Congratulations to her and to the 16 other McGillians who are being inducted into the Order. They all make McGill proud.”

McGill Chancellor Michael A. Meighen (BA’60, LLD’12), also offered his congratulations. “Suzanne exemplifies the motto of the Order of Canada: ‘They desire a better country,’ ” he said. “Throughout her career, she has worked to improve the lives of Canadians – through research, by creating the conditions to educate the next generation of talent, and by providing her sound, down-to-earth advice to non-profit organizations. Félicitations.”

The Order is an acknowledgement of Prof. Fortier’s work throughout her career, from her early research that combined chemistry, mathematics and artificial intelligence to her current position at McGill.
Prof. William Leggett (PhD 69, DSc’01), a former Vice-Principal Academic at McGill, was Principal of Queen’s University when Prof. Fortier became the Vice-Principal Research, and eventually the Vice-Principal Academic. “I am thrilled to learn of Suzanne’s appointment to the Order of Canada. One of her defining characteristics is the genuine pleasure she derives from facilitating and celebrating the success of others,” he said.

“This and her exceptional leadership skills have combined to significantly advance the quality of Canadian post-secondary education and research, and in so doing she has enriched the lives of all Canadians. Suzanne is a remarkable human being who richly deserves this recognition. I feel genuinely blessed to have had the good fortune to work with her and to call her my friend. Congratulations, Suzanne.”

Two McGill honorary degree recipients were named Companions of the Order of Canada:

  • Roberta Bondar (DSc’92), for her contributions to our awareness of environmental sustainability as an educator, patron and internationally recognized photographer, and for her pioneering work in space medicine research.
  • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin (LLD’16), former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, for her prodigious impact on our country’s legal landscape, notably as the longest-serving chief justice of Canada, as well as being the first woman in the role.

In addition to Prof. Fortier, three McGillians were named Officers of the Order of Canada. They are:

  • Cindy Blackstock (M MGMT’03), Professor of Social Work, for her leadership as a champion of Indigenous children and for her efforts to build a culture of reconciliation.
  • Sheila Fraser (BCom’72), for her dedication to enhancing the accountability of our governmental institutions and to promoting Indigenous rights across Canada.
  • Julia Gersovitz, (BSc(Arch)’74,BArch’75), for her contributions to heritage preservation in Canada and abroad as a respected conservation architect.

A member of the Gitksan First Nation with 25 years of social work experience in child protection and indigenous children’s rights, Prof. Blackstock’s research interests are indigenous theory and the identification and remediation of structural inequalities affecting First Nations children, youth and families. “This is well-deserved recognition for [Cindy Blackstock’s] work on behalf of Indigenous children and reconciliation,” said Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal Academic. “We are proud that Cindy is a member of the McGill University faculty.”

“This recognizes the importance of our collective work to achieve equity in public services for First Nations children and their families,” said Prof. Blackstock. “Children only get one childhood and they should not have to wait to be treated fairly by Canadian Governments. Every child is worth the effort and every child is worth the money.”

Eleven McGillians were appointed Members of the Order of Canada. They are:

  • W. Dale Dauphinee, a former Chair of Medicine and former Physician-in-Chief for the Royal Victoria Hospital, for his contributions to medical education and the development of standards for evaluating physicians in Canada and around the world.
  • Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien (BA’58, MSc(A)’60) for her contributions to telecommunications and for her efforts to support family businesses across Canada and abroad.
  • Abraham Fuks (BSc’68, MDCM’70), former Dean of Medicine, for his contributions to the advancement of Canadian medical research, notably for his exploration of the immunological features of Type 1 diabetes and of immune-based cancer therapies.
  • Nahum Gelber (BA’54; BCL’57) for his extensive philanthropic contributions toward the advancement of Canadian education and artistic culture, and for his promotion of intercultural understanding.
  • Mitchell Halperin (BSc’58, MDCM’62) for his renowned leadership within the field of nephrology as a clinician, researcher and educator.
  • Peter Irwin (PhD’74) for his leadership in the Canadian wind engineering field, notably for his groundbreaking technique of wind sensor prediction.
  • Gilles Lavigne, former Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry, for his breakthrough research as a dentist and neuroscientist who has fostered a greater understanding of the interactions between pain and sleep disorders.
  • Calin Rovinescu (DEC’74) for promoting the associated charitable causes and organizations of Canada’s largest airline, and for his leadership in spearheading humanitarian relief following several natural disasters.
  • Sharon Sholzberg-Gray (BSc’63, BCL’66) for her leadership in health care, notably for her advocacy for access to publicly funded and accessible health care services for all Canadians.
  • Yvonne Steinert, Professor of Family Medicine, for her contributions to the advancement of pedagogical principles, faculty development and new training approaches in Canadian medical education.
  • Ronald Franklin Williams (BArch’64) for his significant contributions to our landscape architecture through his designs, teaching and publications.

There was strong representation of the Faculty of Medicine among these most recent Order of Canada recipients – a fact not lost on David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine. “Dr. Fuks, Dr. Dauphinee and Prof. Steinert are most-deserving of being included among the great Canadians bestowed with this honour. The Order of Canada is recognition of the tremendous contributions that each has made to advancing medical research and medical education over the course of their careers,” said Dr. Eidelman. “The Faculty of Medicine is proud to count them as members of our community. I offer my sincere congratulations to Dr. Fuks, Dr. Dauphinee, Prof. Steinert, our alumnus Dr.  Mitchell Halperin, Principal Fortier and the rest of the McGillians receiving this great Canadian honour.”

Queen Elizabeth II established the Order of Canada in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. It is considered one of our country’s highest civilian honours.

If we have missed including anyone in this list, please email us at and we will update the story.

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Irma de PAPINI
5 years ago

Mes félicitations les plus sincères pour cette reconnaissance bien mérité.

Robert Randell
5 years ago

Congratulations to all the folks mentioned in this article but especially to Principal Fortier. Being the principal of a great institution like McGill requires a great deal of hard work and personal sacrifice, she deserves every bit of recognition she can get.