Alex Michalos was among the likes of former Hockey Night in Canada voice Howie Meeker and actor Michael J. Fox when he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada four years ago.
Michalos, adjunct professor with Brandon University, received the honour for his contributions to the social sciences and quality-of-life research. The prolific author considers himself lucky to be recognized in such a way.
"That’s a wonderful honour," he said. "It’s a fairly elite group."
As they both have names that begin with M, Michalos remembers standing next to former NHLer Meeker as they waited for their award from former governor general Michaëlle Jean at a special event held in Ottawa in 2010.
According to gg.ca, the website of current Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Michalos has been sought out by Canadian and foreign governments for his expertise. He has shared his leadership skills with UNESCO, the Royal Society of Canada and the International Society for Quality of Life Studies, as well as with numerous community organizations and government bodies, both at home and abroad.
Michalos recently published a comprehensive "Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research," a 12-volume set containing essays from scholars in 58 countries on hundreds of topics, including friendship, illiteracy, marginalized communities, gambling, and 22 of the most popular quality-of-life indexes used by governments and public policy institutes.
It’s stories like these that are the focus of a cross-Canada travelling exhibit called "It’s An Honour," which is currently in Brandon.
The mobile exhibit is set up at Neelin High School. It opened yesterday and continues today, when it is open to the public until 6 p.m. The goal of the exhibit is to introduce visitors to the Canadian System of Honours, which recognizes people for their extraordinary achievement, bravery, valour and service.
"Our three main goals about this travelling exhibit is to educate people about the honours system, we always try to inspire people and to instil pride in the upcoming of (Canada’s) 150th (anniversary) in 2017," said road manager Francois Grenier.
"It’s nice to see most of the students, the younger ones, usually go for it — they really like the nice blend of history and the technology inside of the exhibit."
Visitors get to see the various medals, including the Victoria Cross, Canada’s highest honour, as well as the Order of Canada, Decorations for Bravery and a variety of military decorations.
Grade 9 student Madison Hayden toured the exhibit with her social studies class.
"I thought it was really neat," she said. "It was cool because you don’t get to see this every day … I didn’t know there was this many medals."
Neelin social studies teacher Jamie Harrison said the timing couldn’t have been better for the exhibit to arrive in Brandon.
"Right now, we’re actually learning about our government system and we’re learning about influential Canadians," she said. "Timing wise, this fit really well with what they’re already learning and kind of reinforces some of the things we’ve already covered, but in a more hands-on way."
A section of the tour includes the Governor General’s Academic Medal, which is awarded at four levels: bronze at the secondary school level, collegiate bronze at the post-secondary diploma level, silver at the undergraduate level and gold at the graduate level.
Neelin High School’s own principal, Michael Adamski, received the gold medal in 2008 when he completed his masters from Brandon University.
"Being in the business of education and working with kids, when I made the choice to continue on, by … completing my masters, it was a goal I had set for myself," he said. "Just … do the best that I possibly can because it’s something that I expect of my students … and I want everybody to set the bar high for themselves, and that’s what I chose to do for myself."
Adamski encourages the general public to visit the exhibit while it is in Brandon
"I think it’s an excellent opportunity," he said.
It’s An Honour began in July 2013, and has made stops in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The next stop is Wawanesa later this week.
"We mostly target smaller towns," Grenier said. "Some of these towns don’t actually have museums and everything so we always feel really appreciated."
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