By: Ted Simpson
Algonquin leaders past and present were among the inductees at the inaugural Order of Ottawa ceremony held at City Hall Nov. 22.
Dean of Media and Design, Russell Mills and former Algonquin president Robert Gillett received the city’s newest and most prestigious award at a formal gala presentation alongside 13 other Ottawa residents.
“There’s the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario; we thought that we should have our own order to allow us to thank these people that do great things in the community that often go unrecognized,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We think that it’s a great way for the city to say, ‘job well done.’”
Watson and members of city council established the award earlier this year and opened up nominations to let the citizens decide who should be recognized. The city was looking for nominees who had made a significant contribution in a professional capacity to benefit the community.
All nominations were considered by a committee including the mayor, city clerk and solicitor, chief of police, chief of protocol, city archivist and chief executive officer, library services.
Gillett’s nomination came from within the college.
“I understand it was staff from Algonquin, I understand Mr. Doug Wotherspoon led that parade,” said Gillett.
Both Mills and Gillett were honoured not just for their contributions to Algonquin, but their extensive work with the city outside the college. Mills has served as editor and publisher of the Ottawa Citizen and is Chair of the National Capital Commission.
“Both of us have been around Ottawa for a long time and we’ve done different things,” said Mills. “Bob was with the school board and then the college and I was with the Citizen and then the NCC. He deserves it.”
“It was very nice for Algonquin to have that recognition,” said Gillett.
For Gillett, the award came as a complete surprise as he had not even been aware he was nominated.
“I was very honoured, I had no idea it was going to happen until I got a call from the mayor one night saying show up here, you’ve been selected,” said Gillett.
Other recipients of the award include organ donation activist and double lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell, well known businessman and founder of the Elvis Sighting Society, Moe Atallah; and Executive Director of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Allison Fisher.
Mayor Watson also presented the Brian Kilrea Award to Don Campbell, honouring excellence in amateur sport coaching.
Campbell is a sports reporter with the Ottawa Citizen who has been volunteering in local sports for 37 years.
What does one do with such a prestigious award?
“My wife usually gets these things framed,” said Mills. “I probably know what I’m getting for Christmas now; a framed version of this (award).”