Inspiring musician, university president, pediatric researcher among Order of Manitoba inductees

A dozen Manitobans will be inducted into the Order of Manitoba today, the highest honour in the province.

12 Manitobans honoured for enriching the social, cultural or economic well-being of the province

The arm of Order of Manitoba inductee Robb Nash is covered with more than 100 tattoos of signatures from suicide notes he's received from young people after his concerts. They handed them in because they changed their minds about killing themselves. (White Pine Pictures)

A dozen of Manitoba's most renowned citizens will receive the province's highest honour on Thursday, the Order of Manitoba.

The honourees, including youth advocate Robb Nash, University of Manitoba president David Barnard and renowned pediatric researcher Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, are credited with enriching the social, cultural or economic well-being of the province.

Lt.-Gov. Janice C. Filmon, chancellor of the order, will preside over the 4 p.m. ceremony at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

Here is a list of the dozen people to be celebrated at the 2018 ceremony:

David Barnard has been president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba since 2008. (Mike Latschislaw/University of Manitoba)

David Barnard — As president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba since 2008, Barnard has championed Indigenous achievement and enhanced research facilities and graduate student support. During his tenure, the university was selected as the site for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and he has held prestigious research chairs, including with Canada Excellence.

Michael Belhumeur — A Métis elder and a military veteran, Belhumeur co-founded the Urban Knights and Ladies Volunteer Veterans Ambassadors Peace Patrol of Manitoba, a first-of-its-kind, volunteer-based safety promotion and crime prevention organization. Serving the Winnipeg community for 40 years, its focus has been on locating and finding support for homeless veterans.

Jacqueline Blay — The award-winning francophone historian's writings reflect the efforts of francophones in Manitoba to preserve their language and culture. She has served as president of the St. Boniface Historical Society, Gabrielle-Roy House and the Société franco-manitobaine. She continues to work on her series of five books dedicated to promoting the history of francophone and Métis communities in Manitoba.  

Barbara Bruce — A citizen of the Métis nation, Bruce has spent her life working with and for the Métis nation and First Nations' communities and organizations. She was directly involved in the planning of four Truth and Reconciliation Commission national events. She has served on the boards of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the Top 40 Under 40, among others.

Dr. Sara J. Israels — The pediatric hematologist/oncologist is world-renowned for her innovative work in the care of children and teenagers with cancer and bleeding disorders. She led the expansion of inter-professional care, the development of an aftercare program for survivors of childhood cancer, and the creation of dedicated space for children and their families at CancerCare Manitoba. 

Manitoban fisherman Robert Kristjanson's commitment to the growing algae problem on Lake Winnipeg inspired several initiatives to address the problem. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

Robert Kristjanson — The lifelong resident of Gimli and commercial fisherman for 70 years increased public awareness of the growing algae problem on Lake Winnipeg. He also led the implementation of the Canadian Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, served in the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for 35 years, and has a distinguished record of service to a variety of community organizations.

William Loewen — Loewen's distinguished business career includes innovation and commercial success in computer services and electronic commerce. He has championed other community organizations such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Choral Association, Heritage Saint Norbert, West End Cultural Centre, Urban Circle Training Centre and Heritage Winnipeg. 

Bernice Marmel — Marmel has been a longtime champion and advocate for seniors, affordable housing and low-income Manitobans. She helped establish a visiting program and phone service for Deer Lodge hospital residents, matching volunteers with seniors to reduce social isolation. In 2016, she received the Murray and Muriel Smith Award, the highest honour given by the Manitoba Council on Aging. 

Robb Nash — Nash uses music to influence young people, performing at schools, reservations and detention centres across Canada. After surviving a near-fatal accident, he began speaking to youth, playing his songs that are intended to inspire discussion about important issues, such as bullying, addiction, self-harm and suicide. Over the past five years, more than 800 students have relinquished their planned suicide notes to him and hundreds more have stopped self-harming behaviours.

Ken Opaleke — For more than 27 years Opaleke has been dedicated to empowering disadvantaged youth as the executive director of West Broadway Youth Outreach, a non-profit organization that helps youth realize their full potential. He lists among his greatest accomplishments the fact that he has been never taken a sick day in 30 years, and helped two of his former program "students" achieve their dream of graduating from medical school, with another three not far behind.

Dr. Grant N. Pierce — His research in cardiovascular medicine has brought scientific acclaim to Manitoba through his participation in a series of pioneering studies to stop or reverse heart muscle disease or blood vessel wall injury. He helped develop the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and helped found the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, both at St. Boniface Hospital. 

Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg's research has benefited the health of Manitobans at risk for certain illnesses. (Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba)

Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg — The physician and researcher is renowned for her leadership in pediatric health and her expertise in the field of rare metabolic disorders and genetic diseases. Her research benefited the health of Manitobans at risk for certain illnesses, resulting in the development of targeted newborn screening programs and new treatments. This led to life-changing interventions for many Manitobans, including those in the province's Hutterite, Mennonite and Indigenous communities.

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