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First official ceremony-Presentation of the Ordre de Montréal medals : Mayor of Montréal presents city's highest distinction to 17 deserving members of the community

Montreal, May 17 2017 - On Montréal's 375th anniversary, the Mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre, presented the prestigious Ordre de Montréal medal to 17 deserving personalities as part of a solemn ceremony, which was held this afternoon at Montréal city hall in the presence of Bernard Voyer, co-president of the Ordre de Montréal council.

“As the Mayor and a citizen of Montréal, I am pleased to be part of the first official presentation of the Ordre de Montréal. Today, we are honouring members of our community who dedicate themselves for the common good and our city's social and economic development. These personalities have made their mark in various aspects of society and helped energize our city and make it shine, locally and on the international scene. By awarding the Ordre de Montréal medal to these 17 great personalities, we are giving back what they have so generously given to our city,” said Mayor Coderre.

See the ceremony.

Recipients of the Ordre de Montréal

As an important legacy of Montréal's 375th anniversary, the Ordre de Montréal represents the city's highest distinction. The following personalities received a title in one of the following categories: commander (3), officer (6), and knight (8).


Alanis Obomsawin
Internationally renowned filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin has been working for the National Film Board since 1967. She has written and directed approximately 50 documentary films highlighting the culture and history of the First Nations. Of Abenaki descent, Alanis Obomsawin is the first Aboriginal director in Québec and one of the most important documentary filmmakers in Canada.

Jacqueline Desmarais
A patron of the arts and philanthropist, Jacqueline Desmarais has always supported the world of music since the late 1970s. Her tremendous generosity has nourished Montréal's artistic, cultural and community vitality for decades.

Sheila Kussner
Sheila Kussner has contributed in an exceptional way to the advancement of medicine, research and psychosocial oncology services. She is the founder of Hope & Cope, a psychosocial support program for patients with cancer, led by volunteer cancer survivors.


Dany Laferrière
Dany is one of the most prominent contemporary men of letters. In 2013, he became the first Québec and Haitian author to be elected to the Académie française. His work has won popular acceptance since the beginning, and his brilliant literary career has been recognized by a dozen prizes and awards.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain since the year 2000, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is one of the most sought-after conductors in the world.

Françoise Sullivan
Françoise Sullivan has been one of the leading figures of culture in Québec and Canada since the 1940s. A unique and multidisciplinary artist, she is recognized for her long and successful career as a dancer, choreographer and creator in the visual arts.

Dinu Bumbaru
A passionate defendant and promoter of the built, urban and landscape heritage, Dinu Bumbaru works relentlessly for their safeguard, preservation and enhancement. He has been involved with Heritage Montréal since 1982 and is Vice-President of the Institut de politiques alternatives de Montréal.

Karel Velan
Inventor, engineer and famous businessman, Karel Velan is recognized for his exceptional social commitment. His philanthropic and humanist actions are commensurate with his industrial empire, and he has always worked in those fields of activity with passion, determination and generosity.

Jean Davignon
As a doctor and world-renowned researcher, Jean Davignon has devoted his career to research and promoting health. A pioneer in his field of research, Jean has contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge and to raise public awareness about cardiovascular health.


Manon Barbeau
Renowned Montréal filmmaker Manon Barbeau gives a voice to people on the margins of society through a rich, award-winning filmography. She initiated the audiovisual creation studios Vidéo Paradiso and Wapikoni mobile.

Michel de la Chenelière
A leader in the field of publishing in Québec and philanthropist, Michel de la Chenelière is the founder of Éditions de la Chenelière, a pioneer in the field of French schoolbook publishing in North America.

Michelle Dawson
A committed researcher, Michelle Dawson specializes in autism and actively defends the rights of those with autism. Her research work has helped better understand autism and its legal status.

Ashok Vijh
Ashok Vijh is behind dozens of scientific breakthroughs and innovations. He has earned international recognition through his research on interfacial electrochemistry, energy conversion and storage, development of lithium batteries and electrochemical treatment of cancer cells.

Joanne Burgess
Professor, researcher as well as a passionate and prolific historian, Joanne Burgess has marked the Québec scientific and cultural scene through her research on Montréal history and heritage. Her work helped highlight our rich collective heritage, especially Montréal's popular history.

Yvan Allaire
Yvan Allaire is one of the most influent personalities in Québec and Canada. A leader of international reputation in the field of business strategy and governance, Yvan has led a brilliant career in the academic and business fields.

France Labelle
As the co-founder and executive director of the Refuge des jeunes de Montréal, France Labelle fights to improve the living conditions of young homeless people. The Refuge team has welcomed, helped and listened to some 20,000 young people in trouble since its creation in 1989. We owe her and her friend Dan Bigras the success of the Show du Refuge which was introduced in 1991.

Pierre Côté
As a doctor, researcher and professor, Pierre Côté has worked with vulnerable and marginalized people. A pioneer in the development of urban medicine in Montréal, Pierre has contributed significantly to the development, research and accessibility to health care for this specific clientele.

“Great Montrealers” were also honoured

During the ceremony, the Mayor of Montréal also awarded the medal of commandeur-commandeure to certain members of the Académie des Grands Montréalais who were unable to attend the transition ceremony from this institution to the Ordre de Montréal on December 17, 2016. The following Great Montrealers received the medal of commandeur-commandeure of the Ordre de Montréal. They are: Denys Arcand (1990), Aldo Bensadoun (2011), André Caillé (2002), Yvon Deschamps (2010), Paul Gérin-Lajoie (2007), Oliver Jones (2014), Alexander Kennedy Paterson (1998), Bartha Maria Knoppers (2014), Robert Lacroix (2002), Margaret Lock (2005), Dominique Michel (2002), Eugene N. Riesman (1993), Denise Robert (2008) – Ms. Robert was represented by Denys Arcand – Alvin Cramer Segal (2014) and Michel Tremblay (1978).

Rigorous selection

The selection of candidates for the first presentation of the Ordre de Montréal was made by the Ordre de Montréal council, which was co-presided by the Honourable Louise Arbour and Bernard Voyer, and made up of Sophie Brochu, Bernard Descôteaux, Cadleen Désir, Odile Joannette, Laurent McCutcheon, Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski and Cathy Wong. The members of the council examined some 100 application files, which were presented following a call for applications launched in the fall of 2016, on the basis of achievements and impact of the candidate on the community and their involvement in promoting the city's reputation on the national and international scenes.

About the Ordre de Montréal

The Ordre de Montréal was created on May 17, 2016, as a legacy to the city's 375th anniversary. The Ordre de Montréal takes over from the Académie des Grands Montréalais, which was created in 1988 by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, which itself had taken over an initiative by the Canadian National introduced 10 years earlier. From 1978 to 2014, approximately 100 Montrealers were recognized for their involvement in the city's cultural, economic and social environments. Out of respect for this outstanding legacy, these personalities were admitted officially as members of the Ordre de Montréal in December 2016 at a special ceremony to mark the launching of Montréal's 375th anniversary celebrations.

Starting this year, the Ordre de Montréal will be awarded to 17 Montréal personalities on May 17 of each year, following a public call for candidates carried out the previous fall.

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