Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 22, 2008
Nuns receive Order of Canada medals
Sr. Margaret Vickers
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Two nuns and the openly pro-life founder of the Reform Party and the first Reform Party MP were inducted into the Order of Canada at a Rideau Hall ceremony Dec. 12.
They chose to receive Canada’s highest civilian honour, despite the controversy over abortionist Henry Morgentaler’s appointment last July 1. That controversy has led about a dozen Canadians, including Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, to return their awards.
“I was overwhelmed to be named to the Order of Canada,” said Sister Margaret Vickers, who received the honour for her lifetime service in Catholic health care as a nurse administrator.
“At the same time I thought it brought an honour to our community, the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception and to my family and friends as well as to all my co-workers,” she said.
“I was asked several times to return my reward,” she said. “But like Jean Vanier, I feel the award was not just for me but for everyone who touched my life during my journey.”
Vickers said the letter Jean Vanier wrote to the father of a disabled son that was published in the Nov. 29 Globe and Mail influenced her decision.
Vanier wrote that he did not want to enter into the painful discussion, and that he wanted his life to be a witness to the “importance and value of all life and particularly the life of people whose disabilities are apparent before birth.”
“At the same time, I believe in the value of the Order of Canada,” he wrote. “It is not up to me to judge who should be banned from receiving it. In no way can I judge intentions.”
“I am proud to have received the Order of Canada,” he wrote. “It was not just awarded to me but as a sign of the value of people with disabilities, who for too long have been pushed aside or hidden away in institutions or in their families.”
Served the addicted
The other nun who was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada was Sister Jeanne d’Arc Bouchard, a nurse who helped those addicted to alcohol and drugs, founding the first structured hospital-based program in Quebec. Bouchard created and ran the Saint-Antoine unit at Roberval hospital for 22 years.
Retired politician Deborah Grey, the first Reform MP in the House of Commons, who served as interim leader of the opposition, was inducted as an officer of the Order of Canada, the second highest honour.
Grey disagreed with Morgentaler’s receiving an award. “I didn’t like that he got the same honour and award,” she said. “There may be lots of people who disagree with my award as well. If everyone throws back their award, who wins?”
Preston Manning, founder of the now defunct Reform Party, received the highest honour as a companion of the Order of Canada.