Eight Manitobans are among the 83 new appointments to the Order of Canada, announced Thursday by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
Six were appointed Members of the Order of Canada, including Big Dave McLean, for his musical influence of Delta and Chicago blues and for mentoring musicians.
Since McLean released his first album in 1989, he has spent his entire musical career in Winnipeg. For three decades, he has operated a Sunday night jam session at Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club on Main Street.
In an earlier interview, McLean said he simply tries to make musicians feel welcome.
"You know, it’s not so much teaching as it is trying to inspire others who are just as taken with the music form as I am. It’s always been a pleasure to pass on whatever knowledge I have to offer, whether it be through performing, jamming or just talking about my musical heroes, and other people and their musical heroes," he said.
McLean said he never thought in his "wildest dreams" he would receive such an honour.
"It’s a true privilege and honour to receive this appointment to the Order of Canada, and it came as a surprise as me, but I’m truly grateful," he said, adding fans can anticipate the release of two albums later this year.
Joining him as a Member of the Order of Canada is former NHL player Reggie Leach, who won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-1970s.
The Riverton native was appointed for his commitment to building healthy communities through the role of sport. Since retiring from hockey, Leach has visited 300 First Nations, speaking to at-risk youth. He received an honorary degree from Brock University earlier this month.
"It’s so important for me to do all of this work with the youth... and giving back to everybody. It’s something that, being First Nation, I’m very proud of who I am and where I came from and what I have accomplished over the years. And I think it’s very important for me to be in a lot of these First Nation communities that are struggling and talking to them, and you know there is hope," he said in an interview.
As a member of Berens River First Nation and of Ojibwa descent, Leach said it is an honour to join the Order of Canada.
"I am accepting this on behalf of all of our First Nations people in Canada, and I think it's a great honour to be First Nation and to be recognized as a leader and as an elder at this point in my life," he said.
Other Manitobans appointed as Members of the Order of Canada: Patrick Ralph Crawford, for contributions in the field of dentistry; Thomas Ralston Denton, for work with refugees and immigrants; Mark Byron Godden, for contributions as a dancer; and John Wade, for advocacy for patient safety.
Two Manitobans are becoming Officers of the Order of Canada: Marion Lewis, for research of Rh disease; and Lotfollah Shafia, for work in the fields of electromagnetics and antenna and satellite development.
The Order honours Canadians that impact society through their innovations and influence on communities.