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David Cronenberg, Alvin Curling among two dozen named to Order of Ontario

Canadian film director David Cronenberg speaks before touring

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Canadian film director David Cronenberg speaks before touring "David Cronenberg: Evolution" in Toronto on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Cronenberg and hockey great Paul Henderson are among the list of honorees who will be awarded the Order of Ontario Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO - Acclaimed film director David Cronenberg and pioneering black politician Alvin Curling were among those invested Thursday into the Order of Ontario.

Twenty-five people — including hockey great Paul Henderson — were appointed to receive Ontario's highest honour from Lt.-Gov. David Onley in a ceremony at Queen's Park.

Henderson was unable to attend Thursday's ceremony and will be inducted into the Order at a later date.

TVOntario host Steve Paikin, Toronto International Film Festival director Piers Handling, and George E. Carter, the first Canadian-born black judge, also were among the recipients.

The Order of Ontario was created in 1986 and recognizes the highest level of individual excellence and achievement in any field.

Nominations are made by members of the public, and any resident, or former long-term resident of Ontario can be nominated.

Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chisanga Puta-Chekwe said Cronenberg "has built a reputation as a seriously transgressive artist."

"For more than 40 years, movie lovers around the world have been challenged and delighted by his work," Puta-Chekwe said in introducing the filmmaker, director and writer. "The value he adds to the creative community is incalculable."

Alvin Curling, Puta-Chekwe said, "never shied away from the political fray."

"In 2003, he became the first black Canadian to be elected speaker of a legislative assembly," he said, adding that Curling "serves as a positive role model for newcomers, and continues to advocate for minority voices."

Paikin — journalist and host of TVO's nightly public affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin — was introduced as a "familiar face."

Paikin serves a "vital" role and helps us to better understand the world in which we live by providing perspective and insight into the issues of the day, Puta-Chekwe said.

Carter was one of Canada's first black lawyers and worked to change Ontario's criminal justice system.

Puta-Chekwe said he "used his legal wisdom and unwavering belief in equal rights to fight discriminatory practices in employment, housing and the criminal justice system."

Premier Kathleen Wynne thanked all the recipients for their "remarkable" contributions to Ontario.

"You are our role models, our trailblazers and our beacons of hope," she said.

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