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3 Manitobans appointed to Order of Canada

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OTTAWA - Three prominent Manitobans are among 70 new appointees to the Order of Canada.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston announced the names today, including prominent filmmaker Guy Maddin, Manitoba philanthropist John Buhler and the artistic director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Steven Schipper.

"When they called me two weeks ago, I actually was speechless," said Buhler, adding anybody who knows him would say he is almost never speechless.

"I still can’t quite believe it."

Buhler, 78, is the founder of the Winnipeg-company Buhler Industries, a farm-equipment manufacturer. Born in Morden, he and his wife, Bonnie, have become a Manitoba philanthropy power couple. They are major donors to numerous Manitoba causes including the Manitoba Children’s Museum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and numerous hospitals. The Health Sciences Centre named a research facility after Buhler, and there is a Buhler Gallery at the St. Boniface Hospital, the only public art gallery in a Canadian hospital.

Buhler said giving away large sums of money comes back to him in spades, both as a businessman and as a person.

"You feel so good about what you’re doing philanthropically, it makes everything else so much easier," he said.

Schipper, 57, was nominated for his contributions to Canadian theatre, particularly his 23 years as the artistic director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

Schipper said he was in London, England on a play scouting trip when he got the news.

"I flew home the next morning without the need for an airplane," he said.

Schipper began at RMTC in 1987 as the associate artistic director and was promoted to artistic director in 1989. RMTC is one of the most successful regional theatres in Canada. Schipper said he shares the honour of the Order of Canada with his family, friends and everyone at RMTC.

"I didn’t make RMTC, but but everyone involved with RMTC sure made me," he said.

Maddin, 56, could not be reached for an interview. The award-winning filmmaker started out his career as a house painter but his love of cinema led him to pursue a career as a filmmaker. His first feature length film, Tales from the Gimli Hospital, was released in 1988. Maddin’s style as a filmmaker leans towards black comedy and surrealism.

Many of his films are set in Winnipeg, including the 2007 critically acclaimed My Winnipeg, which won best Canadian feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Order of Canada is one of the highest civilian honours available in this country. It was established in 1967 to recognize the lifetime achievements, dedication to community and service to the country of great Canadians. More than 5,000 people have been invested to the Order to date.

Between 400 and 600 nominations are considered each year and about 150 new awards given.

Among the 70 new recipients are former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, journalists Craig Oliver and Chantal Hébert, and recently retired Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM CDT: Corrects total number of appointees

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