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Black Canadians among 99 new Order of Canada appointees

Hamlin Grange, Karina LeBlanc, Dr. Angela Cooper Braithwaite and Frantz Saintellemy were among those to be recognized as Canada's most distinguished citizens

Black Canadians among 99 new Order of Canada appointees
Left to right: Hamlin Grange, president of DiversiPro Inc., and diversity and inclusion strategist; Karina LeBlanc, general manager of the Portland Thorns FC in the National Women's Soccer League and former goalkeeper for the Canadian national women's soccer team; and Dr. Angela Cooper Braithwaite, a 50-year nurse who is currently a financial officer for the International Interest Group of Registered Nurses of Ontario. She is also a member of the Order of Ontario. Frantz Saintellemy, Université de Montréal’s 14th, and first Black, chancellor, and president and chief operating officer of LeddarTech. All persons were recently named as members to the Order of Canada by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOTS

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon announced 99 new appointments to the Order of Canada on Thursday, and a few Black Canadians have been honoured as the country’s most renowned citizens.

“What a beautiful way to end the year, honouring Order of Canada appointees and learning about the depth and range of their accomplishments. Celebrated trailblazers in their respective fields, they are inspiring, educating and mentoring future generations, creating a foundation of excellence in our country that is respected throughout the world. Their commitment to the betterment of Canada fills me with pride and hope for the future. Alianaigusuqatigiivassi. Congratulations," Simon said in a statement.

The order recognizes people from all sectors of Canadian society. Inductees belong to one of three tiers: Members (C.M.), Officers (O.C.) and Companions (C.C.). You can find the full list of 2022 appointees here.

An advocate for social justice and change

Durham Region’s Hamlin Grange, a longtime diversity and inclusion strategist, was named as a member of the Order of Canada and recognized as “a passionate change agent for social justice.”

During a phone interview with Black Dollar Magazine, Grange called the appointment a "tremendous honour."

"Obviously, I'm honoured to be among the other recipients, especially in this class, a stellar class of Canadians. To be part of that, I'm still processing it, to be frank about it," he said. "A lot of people who may receive other awards don't do these things to get rewarded or recognition, and that's true for me as well. I do this work because of my passion and belief in my values. To be recognized for doing something that I feel passionately about, and sometimes it is challenging, it's rewarding. So, I really appreciate it. I certainly do."

He is the president and co-founder of DiversiPro Inc., a Toronto-based company that offers training, coaching and consulting on workplace diversity.

"(We always say to organizations) it's not enough to hire people from these particularly underrepresented groups, women, persons with disabilities or racialized individuals. They need to change their systems because that's the only way we're going to make change," Grange said. "And so that's what I encourage organizations that I've worked with to do — change their processes, how they hire, how they promote the products that they create, the programs that they have, and to take a hard look at how they're operating their business. Because diversity and inclusion is not just about hiring people, it's about all the other things."

From Kingston, Jamaica, he came to Toronto and garnered attention as a track star in the 70s. Grange was a member of Canada’s national junior track and field team and competed for Canada in the U.S. and Europe. He was also once a Canadian junior record holder for the 400-metre hurdles.

After receiving a scholarship from the University of Colorado, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and minored in African American studies and research methodologies.

He worked with Denver’s Rocky Mountain News fresh out of J-school and moved back to Canada shortly after to become the managing editor of Contrast, a Black weekly newspaper published in Toronto.

Grange has been an assignment editor and municipal affairs reporter for the CBC. He also hosted CBC Newsworld and CBC’s More to the Story at one time. Other jobs include reporting positions at Global and the Toronto Star.

He’s held several board seats, including the Toronto Police Services Board, the Royal Ontario Museum, the YMCA of Greater Toronto and the Consent and Capacity Board. He was also a founding member of the Canadian Women in Communication and Innoversity.

PhD nurse gets her flowers

Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite, from Whitby, Ont., was named to the Order of Canada as a member “for her extensive contributions to the field of nursing through her leadership, public policy advocacy, education and research.”

This comes just a year after her appointment to the Order of Ontario by Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

Born and educated in Trinidad, Brathwaite has come a long way in her nearly five decades as a nurse. She has launched several initiatives to promote nursing education, improve women’s and children’s health, and address racism in nursing.

She worked as a midwife and registered nurse in Newfoundland in 1975 and stayed for six years. Then, working closely with Indigenous families in Northwest River, she became a regional manager in primary care and head of a health clinic. She served seven communities in the area and was the only midwife on staff, delivering babies for women across northern Newfoundland.

After leaving, she went to Manitoba to get her master’s degree. She attended the University of Manitoba and did her thesis on maternal and child health. She later taught at a community college for over two years but left “because of racism, and went to Ontario in 1987 and worked as a clinical nurse specialist in mental health.”

A couple of years later, she became the director of nursing at Lakeridge Health Oshawa but again faced racism on-site.

“I was the only Black nurse there,” she told TVO. “I didn’t get support. A colleague was just making my life miserable, and I thought, “I’ve already been through racism.” There was another opportunity for me in public health. And I left. I decided, ‘I don’t need this.’ So, I gave up the director’s position… I had enough experience and knowledge to realize that when racism exists, and you don’t have support, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave.”

She has devoted her expertise and professionalism to being a voice for Black nurses and those in the industry who face discrimination and abuse. She was a past president of the Registered Nurse of Ontario (RNAO) and is currently a financial officer for the International Interest Group of RNAO. Braithwaite was a founding member of the International Interest Group and its first president.

She serves as a speaker at several events and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; she teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Karina 'LeBlur’ enshrined as Canada's goalie

Also named to the Order of Canada was Karina LeBlanc, a goalkeeper and former member of the Canadian national women’s soccer team. She was a part of the women's national team for 17 years (1998-2015) and has been an ambassador for the game; she was credited “for her use of soccer as a tool for social change.”

“It’s truly an honour because I think we live in the best country in the world,” she told CBC in an interview.

LeBlanc, 42, moved to Canada from Dominica in 1988 with her family. LeBlanc experienced bullying as a child in Maple Ridge, B.C., partly due to her strong accent. She was also left off the British Columbia under-15 squad. But she didn’t let them stop her from pursuing her goal of competing for Canada and becoming an Olympian.

She participated for Canada in five World Cups and two Olympic Games, capturing a bronze medal in London in 2012.

In addition to the 2012 Olympic bronze medal, LeBlanc earned 110 caps for Canada, including six CONCACAF medals and two medals at the Pan American Games. She had a career-high of 47 clean sheets — a Canadian record.

LeBlanc also had a stellar college career. The Nebraska Husker finished with a 60-6-3 career record while producing a career goals-against average of 0.54. As a senior, her 0.40 goals-against average ranked No. 2 in the nation, according to

In 2015, LeBlanc announced her retirement from professional soccer. In 2020, she was named to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.

She’s also been instrumental in helping to grow the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), which has 12 teams based in the U.S.

She is currently the general manager of Portland Thorns FC in the NWSL. She won a title with the same team in 2013.

The Thorns recently won the 2022 NWSL championship title on Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C. As a general manager, LeBlanc helped the Portland Thorns claim a record third NWSL title.

"I think my life story is only possible because I moved to Canada," LeBlanc told CBC. “I think we are the leaders in this world and to be able to be amongst that class of phenomenal human beings is truly special.”

Frantz the inspiration

For his contributions to innovations in leading-edge electronics technologies and to the country’s entrepreneurial diversity, Haitian-born Frantz Saintellemy was appointed to the Order of Canada too.

He is the first Black chancellor of the Université de Montréal and sits on various boards of directors, including those of Sharethrough, APMA, the Association québécoise des technologies and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. He's also an advisor to the Minister of Economy and Innovation for development of the Quebec's research and innovation strategy and is a member of the Quebec Innovation Council.

Saintellemy has been recognized expert in cutting-edge technologies with more than 25 years of experience in the electronics and automotive industries. He is also the author of numerous patents, innovations, and young plants.

He currently serves as president and chief operating officer at LeddarTech, a leader in environmental sensing for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems.

A native of Montreal, he grew up in Montréal's Saint-Michel and Montréal Nord districts.