Three UBC faculty members named Order of Canada members last month

Three UBC faculty have recently been named members of the Order of Canada, “one of [the] country’s highest civilian honours.”

Dr. Veronica Strong-Boag, Dr. Mark Thompson and Dr. Bruce McManus are among the 105 new appointees to the Order of Canada for the June 2018 intake. Established in 1967 with bi-annual appointments in June and December, more than 6,000 Canadians have been appointed thus far.

Broadly, the Order recognizes its members’ “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.” But the rank of “member” — which is that of all three faculty members — specifically acknowledges “outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity.”

Altogether, the appointments of Strong-Boag, Thompson and McManus continue a track record of UBC faculty being inducted into the Order for their service. Recently, four members were named in December 2015 and and another four in December 2017.

Dr. Veronica Strong-Boag

A professor emerita at the department of educational studies, Strong-Boag is recognized for her role in highlighting the importance of women and children in modern Canadian history.

A prominent women and children’s rights activist, she has authored books detailing the lives and contributions of women to Canadian society, as well as books that detail the history of adoption and child protection in Canada such as Fostering Nations? Canada Confronts Its History of Childhood Disadvantage.

Courtesy Veronica Strong-Boag/ YouTube

“I think that we’ve done much to shift the culture in which policy making occurs that policy makers, politicians and people in general understand Canadian women and children are significant presence and their needs and concerns ought to be addressed in policies,” she said.

“I certainly know that child welfare authorities across the country have read my books on adoption and foster care.”

Looking ahead, Strong-Boag believes that the country still needs to address issues surrounding violence against women and children, economic justice and representation of women and people of colour in government.

“Our federal and provincial governments are much more inclusive than they used to be for folks of colours as well as women,” she said, “and these kinds of issues are very important for policy makers and Canada to [answer] to advance in the 21st century.”

Dr. Mark Thompson

“I’m deeply honoured,” said Thompson about his appointment to the Order. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience so I’m still getting used to it.”

A professor emeritus at the Sauder School of Business, Thompson has taught industrial relations for over 30 years, while also arbitrated and helped shaped public policy on labour management. In particular, he chaired a committee that prepared health and safety regulations for farm workers while serving on the province’s workers compensation board, recalling it as his most satisfying experience.

Screenshot from YouTube

“That was the first time in Canada that we had a special code for safety for farm workers, and farm workers are not well-treated,” he said. “They can put that on my tombstone — I think I helped those farm workers, which are not enough and still more to be done but we got to start.”

When asked about future plans, Thompson said he will still be working to help shape policies regarding farm workers as well as presenting his informed opinions to media outlets as part of being an academic at a public university.

“I’m still going to be working on farm workers — it’s not finished yet,” he said. “Beyond that, I’m not sure if with my age, I’m going to start anything new.”

Dr. Bruce McManus

“Unusual. Extraordinary. Unexpected,” said McManus about being appointed to the Order. “It’s a real privilege and it’s unexpected as I say — it’s wonderful.”

A professor at the department of pathology and laboratory medicine, McManus is recognized for his research on the treatment of cardiovascular disease and the prevention of organ failure. He also serves as the CEO for the Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) as well as the co-director of the Institute for Heart + Lung Health.

Courtesy Bruce McManus

With a “genetically excessive dose of curiosity,” McManus has been following different threads in his research career. Some include how viruses cause disease through their interaction with host cells; how the immune system responds to a donated heart that makes it want to reject the organ; and how to identify bio-signatures in blood to forecast vital organ failure.

“The driver behind it all is trying to make life better for patients,” he said.

“There isn’t a thing I do that isn’t about helping either the patients, other scientists and especially trainees — the next generation of fundamental scientists or translational scientists. For me, being able to do that is a privilege.”