OTTAWA -- Joseph Boyden, the award-winning author whose work vividly documents the complexity of Canada's indigenous history, is among the latest appointments to the Order of Canada in a year when aboriginal issues have dominated the national agenda.

Boyden, whose novels include Three Day Road and The Orenda, joined 68 other people recognized Wednesday by the Governor General with one of the country's highest civilian honours.

In its citation, Rideau Hall said Boyden was being recognized for his contributions to telling stories of "common heritage" and for his social engagement "notably in support of First Nations."

The novelist, who also served as an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission studying Canada's painful residential school legacy, said he believes the arts are a powerful tool to help repair fractured relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

"I have come to realize that I think art is the way to allow Canadians to begin to understand in a way that is manageable at first for them to understand something of such huge pain," he said in an interview.

"We can lecture all we want about the ongoing intergenerational trauma but those words sometimes don't sink in.

"I think stories, I think novels, I think film, I think dance, I think painting, all of this allows Canadians to absorb not just the pain and the anger but the beauty as well."

Several other members of Canada's arts community were honoured Wednesday, including Noreen Taylor, who founded one of Canada's major literary prizes, Winnipeg painter and sculptor Ivan Eyre, Quebec musician Diane Dufresne and Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival.

Other recipients include former Prince Edward Island premier and senator Catherine Callbeck, former privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and House of Commons clerk Audrey O'Brien.

Nominations for the Order of Canada are reviewed by an independent council chaired by the chief justice of Canada. Individuals are appointed on merit to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Rideau Hall has been actively working to ensure its honours reach more Canadians. Earlier this year, Gov. Gen. David Johnston flagged two areas of particular concern for the Order of Canada: gender and regional representation.

Spokesperson Emily Keogh said females make up 46 per cent of the latest appointees. A previous list released in July had 44 per cent of female appointments -- a bump from the average of 31 per cent between 2010 and 2014, she noted, adding there is there is also "great diversity" among the recipients including filmmaker Atom Egoyan and author Rohinton Mistry.

The honour still hasn't sunk in for Boyden.

"It is something you hear about all your life as one of the great gifts given to Canadians of note," he said.

"I guess I have to now consider myself a Canadian of at least some little note."

Here is the full list:


Brenda Andrews of Toronto

Lloyd Axworthy of Winnipeg (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Atom Egoyan of Toronto (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Angela Hewitt of London, U.K. and Ottawa (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Margaret MacMillan of Oxford, U.K. and Toronto (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Arthur B. McDonald of Kingston, Ont. (This is a promotion within the Order.)


Marcel Boyer of Montreal

Julie Dickson of Ottawa

Nassif Ghoussoub of Vancouver

Magella Gros-Louis of Wendake, Que.

Dany Laferriere of Montreal

Guy Latraverse of Montreal

Brian M. Levitt of Montreal

Richard H. McLaren of London, Ont.

Daniel Poliquin of Ottawa (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Richard Scott of Winnipeg

Frances Alice Shepherd of Toronto

Jennifer Anne Stoddart of Montreal

Donald John Taylor of Calgary (This is a promotion within the Order.)

Mary Anne White of Halifax


George Baird of Toronto

Bernard Belanger of La Pocatiere, Que.

David Bissett of Calgary

Denise Bombardier of Montreal

Joseph Boyden of New Orleans and Ahmic Harbour, Ont.

Laura Brandon of Ottawa

Sophie Brochu of Bromont, Que.

Phyllis Bruce of Toronto

Rudy Buttignol of Vancouver

Barbara Byers of Ottawa

Catherine Callbeck of Central Bedeque, P.E.I.

Robert Campbell of Sackville, N.B.

Susan M.W. Cartwright of Ottawa

Antoni Cimolino of Stratford, Ont.

Jack Lynn Cockwell of Toronto

Patricia Cranton of Lakeville Corner, N.B.

Joseph Z. Daigle of Dieppe, N.B.

Wade Davis of Bowen Island, B.C.

Rollande Desbois of Montreal

Diane Dufresne of Montreal

Ivan Kenneth Eyre of Winnipeg

Meric Gertler of Toronto

Ted Grant of Victoria

Barbara Hall of Toronto

Odette Heyn of Winnipeg

Jean-Marc Lalonde of Rockland, Ont.

Pierre H. Lessard of Montreal

Peter S. Li of Richmond, B.C.

Rohinton Mistry of Toronto

John Mulvihill of Toronto

Marie-Jose Nadeau of Montreal

Audrey O'Brien of Ottawa

Sandra Paikowsky of Montreal

Erna Paris of Toronto

Helen Fogwill Porter of Paradise, N.L.

Placide Poulin of Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que.

Louise Richer of Montreal

Kent Roach of Toronto

Cathy Roozen of Edmonton

Morris Rosenberg of Ottawa

Fiona Amaryllis Sampson of Toronto

P. Kim Sturgess of Calgary

Noreen Taylor of Toronto

Faye Thomson of Winnipeg

Peter Valentine of Calgary

Helen Vari of Toronto

Douglas Ward of Ottawa

Richard Weber of Alcove, Que.

Frederic Wien of Halifax