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Most new Order of Canada appointees are white men, despite diversity-boosting efforts

daftandbarmy

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I wasn't aware they were tracking this breakdown:


Rideau Hall acknowledges slow progress on nominating more women, visible minority and Indigenous people​


Most of the new appointees to the Order of Canada in 2020 were white men, despite some progress made in boosting the diversity of the elite group.

Of the 175 people picked for the prestigious civilian honour last year, just over one third were women. About 7.4 per cent were members of visible minorities — up two per cent from the previous year – and 5.1 per cent were Indigenous, according to analysis by immigration and diversity researcher and former government official Andrew Griffith.

Velma Morgan, chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, called those figures "extremely problematic."

"We talk about diversity as our strength as Canadians. We advertise that to the world," she said. "Yet this is not demonstrated when we're trying to recognize those people who have made contributions to Canada."


 

YZT580

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Nominations to the Order are made by Canadian citizens and organisations: they are not as far as I understand, made by government. The nomination is for individuals who have made Canada better in some significant way. Sex, heritage or skin colour should never be considered at all otherwise it lessens the honour of the award. If one year 100% are of Jamaican descent that would be just fine if those were the ones who stood head and shoulders above the rest. The CBC is just trying to stir the pot. Would they consider the purple heart tainted because more men than women earned it?
 

Blackadder1916

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Nominations to the Order are made by Canadian citizens and organisations: they are not as far as I understand, made by government. The nomination is for individuals who have made Canada better in some significant way. Sex, heritage or skin colour should never be considered at all otherwise it lessens the honour of the award. If one year 100% are of Jamaican descent that would be just fine if those were the ones who stood head and shoulders above the rest. The CBC is just trying to stir the pot. Would they consider the purple heart tainted because more men than women earned it?

I'd say that it was the CBC stirring the pot if they were the one to bring this latest objection to light, however according to the linked article it was reporting by The Star of communication between BlackNorth Initiative and the GG that is bringing this to light. Though, this is not the first time that the CBC has reported about perceived inequities in the granting of honours, but it wasn't necessarily the CBC reporter making that determination, sometimes it's been the GG or her senior staff.

Yes, "sex, heritage or skin colour should never be considered" in determining who receives honours. That's the whole point of BlackNorth Initiative's complaint and the CBC's reporting.

I recall a time when receiving an honour was a very rare thing in Canada (for military as well as civilians). It's still not commonplace but more and more I'm seeing reference to individuals (often entertainment and sports figures now living and working south of the border) as being members of the Order of Canada so it must seem important to persons other than the individuals receiving the award. Determining who is "head and shoulders above the rest" must require a set of very subjective criteria, since there are limits on the numbers who can receive it in a given year or for certain levels how many can be in the order (alive) at one time. I was struck by one of the examples given as an individual (of colour) who should reasonably have been a Member of the Order of Canada, Donovan Bailey - though he did receive the Order of Ontario, he, unlike another Canadian "fastest man alive" Ben Johnson, was not made a member of the order.

And if we go back a few more years, one initiative for honours starts to sound almost like a Yes, Minister episode.

The Liberal government wants to see more medals pinned on the chests of public servants, and so has established a kind of quota system to make sure they're nominated more frequently.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council and Canada's top public servant, has pressed all federal departments to submit the names of at least five of their employees each year to the Governor General's office for various awards.

"We encourage you to task the senior managers responsible for employee recognition within your department to begin nominating at least five public servants per year for Canadian honours," says a letter co-signed by Wernick and Stephen Wallace, then-secretary to the Governor General.

The fall 2017 missive to deputy ministers, obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act, was followed up last year directly by the Governor General's office to ensure departments were co-operating.

"We look forward to hearing about your department's strategy to recognize deserving individuals in your department whose achievements, contributions or accomplishments have made a difference or have had a positive impact on your organization," says an email from Sylvie Barsalou, administrative officer with the Chancellery of Honours.

The Liberal government initiative was triggered by an internal assessment that concluded public servants historically have been "underrepresented" within the Canadian Honours System, which includes a broad range of medals and decorations.
 

daftandbarmy

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I'd say that it was the CBC stirring the pot if they were the one to bring this latest objection to light, however according to the linked article it was reporting by The Star of communication between BlackNorth Initiative and the GG that is bringing this to light. Though, this is not the first time that the CBC has reported about perceived inequities in the granting of honours, but it wasn't necessarily the CBC reporter making that determination, sometimes it's been the GG or her senior staff.

Yes, "sex, heritage or skin colour should never be considered" in determining who receives honours. That's the whole point of BlackNorth Initiative's complaint and the CBC's reporting.

I recall a time when receiving an honour was a very rare thing in Canada (for military as well as civilians). It's still not commonplace but more and more I'm seeing reference to individuals (often entertainment and sports figures now living and working south of the border) as being members of the Order of Canada so it must seem important to persons other than the individuals receiving the award. Determining who is "head and shoulders above the rest" must require a set of very subjective criteria, since there are limits on the numbers who can receive it in a given year or for certain levels how many can be in the order (alive) at one time. I was struck by one of the examples given as an individual (of colour) who should reasonably have been a Member of the Order of Canada, Donovan Bailey - though he did receive the Order of Ontario, he, unlike another Canadian "fastest man alive" Ben Johnson, was not made a member of the order.

And if we go back a few more years, one initiative for honours starts to sound almost like a Yes, Minister episode.

I have been part of CAF units that 'ordered' us to submit x # of names for the OMM etc.

Cue laughable and, ultimately quite sad, attempts to justify 'diligent Boy Scout program support', and other less stellar qualities, as justification for awarding such and such a medal to poor, unsuspecting, so and so.

Quotas for these types of things don't do anyone any favours including the subject, and the brand/ prestige of the award itself.
 

Weinie

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I have been part of CAF units that 'ordered' us to submit x # of names for the OMM etc.

Cue laughable and, ultimately quite sad, attempts to justify 'diligent Boy Scout program support', and other less stellar qualities, as justification for awarding such and such a medal to poor, unsuspecting, so and so.

Quotas for these types of things don't do anyone any favours including the subject, and the brand/ prestige of the award itself.
There is some precedent for this, again, right from the top guy.

As the years progressed, Amin's behaviour became more erratic, unpredictable, and strident. After the United Kingdom broke off all diplomatic relations with his regime in 1977, Amin declared that he had defeated the British, and he conferred on himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire). His full self-bestowed title ultimately became: "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular", in addition to his officially stated claim of being the uncrowned King of Scotland.[99] He never received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) or the Military Cross (MC). He conferred a doctorate of law on himself from Makerere University as well as the Victorious Cross (VC), a medal made to emulate the British Victoria Cross.

Victorious Crosses all around.
 

OldSolduer

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There is some precedent for this, again, right from the top guy.

As the years progressed, Amin's behaviour became more erratic, unpredictable, and strident. After the United Kingdom broke off all diplomatic relations with his regime in 1977, Amin declared that he had defeated the British, and he conferred on himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire). His full self-bestowed title ultimately became: "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular", in addition to his officially stated claim of being the uncrowned King of Scotland.[99] He never received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) or the Military Cross (MC). He conferred a doctorate of law on himself from Makerere University as well as the Victorious Cross (VC), a medal made to emulate the British Victoria Cross.

Victorious Crosses all around.
I remember good old Idi Amin Dada. Batcrap crazy.

On a side note, there was a family who moved to a community north of Shellbrook, Sask, who were of East Indian descent who were kicked out of Uganda in the late 60s/early 70s. A very nice family who told us all about Idi and his thugs.
 

quadrapiper

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I have been part of CAF units that 'ordered' us to submit x # of names for the OMM etc.

Cue laughable and, ultimately quite sad, attempts to justify 'diligent Boy Scout program support', and other less stellar qualities, as justification for awarding such and such a medal to poor, unsuspecting, so and so.

Quotas for these types of things don't do anyone any favours including the subject, and the brand/ prestige of the award itself.
Seems a quota would make sense for a short period, to get management/supervisors in the habit. A few cycles of that should catch most of the low-hanging, "should have been recognized years ago," fruit.
 

Blackadder1916

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Quotas for these types of things don't do anyone any favours including the subject, and the brand/ prestige of the award itself.

And I agree. However, (and I may have misinterpreted, but I don't think so) the complaint that was made about so few persons of colour receiving the Order of Canada was not that there should be a quota, but if the selection process had not been skewed then statistically more nominees of colour should have received honours. Probably my inclusion of the Yes Minister link and the story about nomination quotas in our PS veers from the intent of the article quoted in the OP, but I enjoy using Sir Humphrey as an example of bureaucratic bluster. But since I've already used a British example of absurdity, I'll continue making comparisons of us/them.

As I previously noted there are certain limitations on the Order of Canada numbers. In any year the maximum that can be named to the Order are https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/canadian-honours/order-canada/constitution

Companions are limited to 180, (someone has to die or otherwise leave the order before a new companion can be named)
80 persons as Officers
171 persons as Members

So in a country with a population of 37 million, 251 persons can be honoured yearly as officers or members of the Order.

Compare to the UK with a population of 66 million, in their 2021 New Years Honour List roughly equivalent to the Order of Canada awards.
This Collection brings together 2021 honours lists.

The honours system continues to champion diversity at all levels and celebrates the breadth of service given by people from all backgrounds from all across the UK. Of the 1,239 people who receive an award:
  • 1,123 candidates have been selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level:
    • 397 at BEM
    • 476 at MBE
    • 250 at OBE
  • 803 (65%) of the recipients are people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity;
  • 603 women are recognised in the List, representing 49% of the total;
  • 14.2% of the successful candidates come from a BAME background;
  • 6.9% of the successful candidates consider themselves to have a disability (under the Equality Act 2010); and
  • 4% of recipients identified as being LGBT+.

So if each of the twice annually UK Honour's Lists were about the same size, our Queen dispenses honours at a rate over there nearly fives times more than she honours Canadians. The Fount of Honour is more like a spigot over here.

Likely part of the problem may be few nominations, not just for people of colour but for Canadians of all stripes. There is probably little knowledge of the Canadian honours system among the general population and probably even less known about the vetting process that leads to an honour. I recall a dozen or so years ago someone (who I would have thought a bit more knowledgeable about these things) on these means wondering about a suitable award for an individual who performed a notable expedition in the Antarctic and when someone provided an example of an existing award seemed surprised and thankful. Did you ever do anything about it?
 

YZT580

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so it all boils down to: There would be lots more nominees representing all groups if we actually informed people about the awards and solicited their recommendations. Simple solution should get lots of names if you simply ask for them.
 

daftandbarmy

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And I agree. However, (and I may have misinterpreted, but I don't think so) the complaint that was made about so few persons of colour receiving the Order of Canada was not that there should be a quota, but if the selection process had not been skewed then statistically more nominees of colour should have received honours. Probably my inclusion of the Yes Minister link and the story about nomination quotas in our PS veers from the intent of the article quoted in the OP, but I enjoy using Sir Humphrey as an example of bureaucratic bluster. But since I've already used a British example of absurdity, I'll continue making comparisons of us/them.

As I previously noted there are certain limitations on the Order of Canada numbers. In any year the maximum that can be named to the Order are https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/canadian-honours/order-canada/constitution

Companions are limited to 180, (someone has to die or otherwise leave the order before a new companion can be named)
80 persons as Officers
171 persons as Members

So in a country with a population of 37 million, 251 persons can be honoured yearly as officers or members of the Order.

Compare to the UK with a population of 66 million, in their 2021 New Years Honour List roughly equivalent to the Order of Canada awards.


So if each of the twice annually UK Honour's Lists were about the same size, our Queen dispenses honours at a rate over there nearly fives times more than she honours Canadians. The Fount of Honour is more like a spigot over here.

Likely part of the problem may be few nominations, not just for people of colour but for Canadians of all stripes. There is probably little knowledge of the Canadian honours system among the general population and probably even less known about the vetting process that leads to an honour. I recall a dozen or so years ago someone (who I would have thought a bit more knowledgeable about these things) on these means wondering about a suitable award for an individual who performed a notable expedition in the Antarctic and when someone provided an example of an existing award seemed surprised and thankful. Did you ever do anything about it?
I did check that out! Apparently, since he'd already received a gong from HRH, the likelihood of him qualifying for another one was vanishly small...
 

Blackadder1916

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so it all boils down to: There would be lots more nominees representing all groups if we actually informed people about the awards and solicited their recommendations. Simple solution should get lots of names if you simply ask for them.

No, that's not what I said. The total number of Canadians who can be named to the Order of Canada as officers or members are limited by current regulations to the 251 per year as I noted in the previous post. I only surmised that the number of nominations "may" contribute to the problem outlined in the OP article, but since only those who are appointed to the Order are identified, we don't know who, how many and the background of those who've been nominated but not selected. More nominations will not result in more Canadians being appointed to the Order of Canada.

As the complaint provided in the OP posits that the process seems to end up with a predominantly white end-result, then some changes to the advisory council membership (who make the selections) or their selection criteria may provide a different perspective on who is deserving. Probably most of the 400 to 700 nominations they receive each year (numbers from GG spokesperson comment in a news story) are worthy of accolades, but how do you compare, for example, a physician's life's work to an athlete's to an entertainer's to a social activist's and arrive at who get's the gong.

To see who were on the latest list https://www.gg.ca/en/activities/2020/governor-general-announces-114-new-appointments-order-canada
 

YZT580

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The list of committee members is almost equally divided men and women. By dictate they are an independent body. It is headed by the chief justice and consists of lawyers, university professors and the like. I would say that most would tilt left if that has any bearing. There is nothing that can be done with an honours list that can tilt it towards any particular group without destroying the validity of the honour. So it boils down to the quality of the nominees. If they are doing a fair job and without contradictory proof we have to assume that they are then my previous post stands: get more nominees to give them something to choose from.
 
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