The Order of Canada is Canada's highest civilianhonour, awarded to those who adhere to the Order's motto Desiderantes meliorem patriam meaning "they desire a better country."
The Order was created on July 1, 1967, on the country's 100th anniversary, to recognize Canadians who have made a difference to Canada. It is Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement. Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada is Sovereign of the Order and the serving Governor-General is its Chancellor and Principal Companion. Since 1967, more than 4,000 people have received the Order of Canada.
There are three levels of the award:
Companions of the Order of Canada have demonstrated the highest degree of merit to Canada and humanity, on the national or international scene. Up to 15 Companions (C.C.) are appointed each year, with a limit of 165 Companions at any given time.
Officers of the Order of Canada have demonstrated an outstanding level of talent and service to Canadians. Up to 64 Officers (O.C.) are appointed each year.
Members of the Order of Canada have made an exceptional contribution to Canada or Canadians at a local or regional level. As many as 136 Members (C.M.) may be appointed annually.
Mr. Gilles Paquet, C.M., President, the Royal Society of Canada
All living Canadians are eligible for any of the three awards, with the exception of politicians and judges in office. Awards are announced twice annually, on January 1 and July 1 (Canada Day). Members may be promoted to Officers, and Officers may be promoted to Companions; this is generally done five years or more after the initial appointment.
The orders are generally handed out by the Governor General at Rideau Hall and, on rare occasions when she is in the country, by the Queen herself.
Citizens of other countries are eligible for honorary appointments at all three levels. The maximum number of honourary appointments per year is five.
Members can be removed from the Order if the Advisory Council feels their actions have brought it into disrepute. As of 2004, the only person to be stripped of the honour is Alan Eagleson, who was removed from the order after being jailed for fraud in 1998. David Ahenakew has also faced calls for his removal due to anti-Semitic comments he made in 2002.