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Edmonton ER doctor, First Nations leader among Order of Canada appointments in Alberta

Several Alberta names are on the list of latest additions to the Order of Canada.

Of 78 new appointments announced Thursday, four in the Edmonton area will receive of one of the country’s highest honours.

Here’s a look at the new appointments.

Wilton Littlechild

Former Treaty 6 grand chief Wilton Littlechild is being promoted to the Order of Canada’s highest level of companion, after he was first appointed as a member in 1998.

Since then, Littlechild has continued his work promoting Indigenous athletes and sport, and addressed reconciliation and Indigenous rights on a global stage.

“Since that time of the first designation, I’ve just escalated my work at the United Nations to continue to promote peaceful co-existence among peoples, as we’re instructed by our international treaty of peace and friendship,” Littlechild told CBC News.

A former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, he also played a key role bringing Pope Francis to Canada in 2022, where the pontiff apologized for the harms of residential schools in Littlechild’s own community of Maskwacis, Alta., just south of Edmonton.

“It’s all come together in a very good way, a very powerful way … not only within our region, but nationally and now internationally.”

Littlechild says his family and community have to be credited in his successes too, and he keeps his Cree teachings about the importance of good relations at the heart of his work on reconciliation.

“Hopefully this designation motivates all our youth, especially Indigenous youth, to continue working … in their own pursuit of excellence.”

Jodi Abbott

Jodi Abbott started judging figure skating as a teenager, when her mother said it was time for Abbott to give her own time as a volunteer in return for all that she was given as an athlete.

Since then, Abbott has judged figure skating at the highest levels, including the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. Her Order of Canada appointment references her work mentoring young athletes in figure skating, as well as her leadership in Alberta’s health and post-secondary systems.

She spent 10 years as president of Edmonton’s Norquest College after decades working in different health roles, and she’s now president and CEO of the University Hospital Foundation.

“My personal belief that everyone needs to be given opportunity,” Abbott says.

“I think having the [Order of Canada] honour comes with some obligation to also continue to represent communities well. And I take it very seriously and hold it in really high esteem, to continue to support community.”

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti

As an emergency medicine physician, Dr. Francescutti says he often treats the “failures of prevention.”

That led him to other work promoting public safety, from multimedia presentations teaching teens about preventing injuries to the Bridge Healing program, which offers transitional housing for patients being discharged from the hospital into homelessness — increasing their risk of ending up back in the ER.

“There are solutions to these problems that we’re seeing,” Francescutti says.

“I really believe the day will come when we have enough Bridge Healing buildings that are up that people can walk up to them and knock on the door and say, ‘I need a place to stay.’ They can bypass emergency, and bypass having to call an ambulance or interact with police.”

Francescutti’s Order of Canada appointment also highlights his advocacy for vulnerable people. He teaches a class about advocacy at the University of Alberta, something he says shouldn’t be necessary if there was accountability for how systems are failing.

“What we need to do is go to work every day and say, ‘How can I do something, in everything I do, to make sure everyone has the same chance that I’ve been afforded?'”

Glen Baker

Scientist Glen Baker worked in the University of Alberta’s psychiatry department for more than four decades, and published widely on neuropsychopharmacology, which combines neuroscience with the study of how drugs affect the mind.

He is being appointed to the Order of Canada “for his pioneering contributions” to the field in research, administration and mentoring.

Baker has studied the mechanism of action behind drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics, and interactions between drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders.

His University of Alberta bio notes hundreds of publications and dozens of graduate students he supervised. Baker is now a U of A professor emeritus, but he also previously served as the university’s associate vice president of research.

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