A former Maple Ridge resident has been awarded one of the country’s highest civilian honours – the Order of Canada.
Janis Dunning, who was born and raised in Maple Ridge, received the honour alongside her husband, Jacques Lemay of Trois-Riviere, Que., on Dec. 29, for their “outstanding and numerous contributions to the arts and to young artists in Canada.”
According to the Canadian College of Performing Arts, Dunning started her career in the arts as a successful child singer. She would later enter the world of ballet and receive a full scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Eventually she received a Canada Council grant to study acting in New York and performed in and directed theatre productions across Canada, in addition to the West End of London, England.
Dunning was the creator and principal performer in two award-winning children’s television series called Let’s Go and The Rockets. She also coached and mentored hundreds of young artists over a period of 18 years while creating TV shows.
She founded three training programs that are still in existence: the musical theatre program for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; the Young Company Program for the Charlottetown Festival; and the Canadian College of Performing Arts, of which she was the co-founder and program director.
She is also co-founder of the Canadian Heritage Arts Society.
In celebration of Canada’s 125th anniversary Dunning created and produced the national program Experience Canada which toured the country with 125 young Canadian artists selected from across the country.
She has also created major productions celebrating Canada’s cultural diversity, first peoples, and youth.
One of the many acclaimed shows she wrote to inspire youth is We Will Not Forget, an original musical that pays tribute to the men and women who fought in the Second World War.
“She continues to inspire young artists to discover their talent and to match their artistic passion with a high standard of work ethic,” the college stated on its website. “Her passion and dedication to the arts and young people is renowned. Thousands of young Canadians have benefited from her support, guidance and drive and she continues to contribute to the arts and to the education the young people of Canada – the next leaders of our nation.”
Governor General of Canada Mary Simon announced 135 new appointments to the Order of Canada at the end of December including: two Companions (C.C.); 39 Officers (C.O.); one honourary Member; and 93 Members (C.M.).
“Canada is defined by the people that make up this great country,” said Simon.
“These most recent nominees to the Order of Canada are shining examples of the commitment and outstanding contributions Canadians have made to the well-being of communities throughout this land, whether it be social, environmental, scientific, economic, cultural or related to mental and physical health. To all of the nominees, congratulations and thank you,” she added.
Dunning and Lemay, who currently live in Victoria, will receive the six-point white enamel snowflake insignia that symbolizes Canada’s northern heritage and diversity.
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to help build a better country.
Since its inception, more than 7,500 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order of Canada.
Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the advisory council for the Order of Canada.
For more information about the Order of Canada or to nominate someone go to gg.ca/en/honours.
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