Lillie Johnson, Yisa Folasele Akinbolaji, Debbie A. Douglas Join New Order of Canada Appointments

Governor General Mary Simon recently announced the induction of 78 distinguished individuals into the esteemed Order of Canada. The list includes three Companions, 15 Officers, one Honorary Officer, and 59 Members, recognizing their profound impact on Canadian society. Notable among these honorees are Lillie Johnson, Yisa Folasele Akinbolaji, and Debbie A. Douglas. Each has been recognized for their outstanding contributions in Scarborough, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Toronto, Ontario, respectively.

Lillie Johnson, C.M., O.Ont. – Scarborough, Ontario For decades, Lillie Johnson has been a trailblazer in public health, particularly in championing the betterment of the Black community. Her groundbreaking achievement includes founding the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario, advocating for the inclusion of Sickle Cell Disease in newborn screening. Born in Jamaica in 1922, Johnson immigrated to Canada in 1960, where she became the first Black director of public health in Ontario’s Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark district. Her impressive career spans teaching, nursing, midwifery, and serving as a torchbearer for the Pan-Am Games in 2015. A published author and recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Ontario, Johnson’s dedication to healthcare, education, and family continues to leave an indelible mark on Ontario’s health landscape.

Debbie A. Douglas, C.M. – Toronto, Ontario Residing in Toronto, Debbie A. Douglas serves as the Executive Director of OCASI, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Her appointment to the Order of Canada recognizes her steadfast commitment to advancing principles of equity and inclusion within the Canadian immigration system. Douglas has been instrumental in highlighting issues of race, gender, economic class, and sexual orientation within the immigrant and refugee settlement and integration sector. Her leadership at OCASI has been pivotal in creating safe and inclusive spaces for newcomers to Canada.

Yisa Folasele Akinbolaji, C.M. – Winnipeg, Manitoba Renowned visual artist Yisa Akinbolaji, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been honored for his exceptional artistic innovations and dedicated mentorship of youth. Before immigrating to Canada in 1997, Akinbolaji was recognized as a leading Nigerian artist, featured in publications by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries in Washington, D.C., and Art Business News in New York. His unique painting technique, blending Western and African art traditions, has garnered international acclaim and has been showcased in numerous exhibitions globally. Akinbolaji is not only an accomplished artist but also a passionate advocate for youth empowerment, founding the Creative Foundation dedicated to mentoring youth in arts, sciences, human rights, and technology.

For a detailed list of the newly appointed members of the Order of Canada and their extraordinary achievements, please visit the official announcement here.

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