It’s one thing to say Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip are national treasures. A group of broadcasters is trying to make it official.
On Thursday, Central Ontario Broadcasting, a group of three radio stations, began a petition to Governor General David Johnston, seeking to secure the Order of Canada for Downie.
“From his songwriting to environmental activism, Gord Downie embodies what it means to be Canadian,” states the petition, created by Indie88 Toronto, Rock 95 and 1075 KoolFM in Barrie. “Along with all The Tragically Hip band members, he’s had a profound impact not just on the world of music, but on Canadian culture as well.”
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II and is the second highest honour to be presented to a citizen by the queen in the system of orders, decorations and medals. The distinction was created to recognize “the outstanding merit or distinguished service of Canadians who make a major difference to Canada through lifelong contributions in every field of endeavour, as well as the efforts by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions,” according to a Wikipedia entry on the honour. More than 6,500 people have been appointed to the Order of Canada since 1967, including scientists, musicians, artists, athletes, performers, politicians and others.
As of Friday night, more than 44,000 people have signed the petition, which as an established goal of 50,000 signatures before it will be submitted to Johnston.
Among the comments submitted by supporters:
“His music is our shared Canadian experience through songs like ‘Wheat Kings,’ ‘Nautical Disaster,’ ‘Bobcaygeon,’ ‘Fifty Mission Cap,’ just to name a few,” writes Karim Mosna of Hamilton, Ont.
“It would likely have happened at some point, but since the time is short, now’s the time. I would prefer that the entire group receive it, since it was a collaborative effort, and it would be a wonderful moment for Gord to share with his bandmates,” suggests Collin Doyle of Winnipeg, Man.