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Order of CanadaBy GERRY POSNER
There are prizes and there are awards. Indeed, there are all sorts of honours in so many areas, but surely in Canada, the ultimate honour might well be the Order of Canada.

It’s not the easiest thing to get; far from it, in fact. But, if you were to reflect on the history of this prestigious prize and the connection to Jewish Manitobans, you would be astounded at the numbers. Bluntly put, Jewish Manitobans have overachieved in proportion to their numbers in the total population.
Begin with the fact that the Order of Canada was introduced in 1967. Thus, it is a mere 50 years old. There are, as far as I can determine, at least 54 Jewish Manitobans who have received this distinction to date. I qualify my observation by saying that I am not sure I have accounted for all of them. Not surprisingly, the Order of Canada website does not categorize recipients by ethnicity. Therefore, I may have missed some and, if so, I apologize to them and, if they’re deceased, to their surviving family members. But, for those whose names I do have, the total is over 50 - or a little more than one a year. I know you’re asking yourself who all of these people could be?  
Here’s my list (in no particular order):

1. Monty Hall
2. Saul Cherniack
3. Michael Eskin
4. Meeka Walsh
5. Jack London
6. Ted Lyons
7. Harold Buchwald
8. Marjorie  Blankstein
9. Sol Kanee
10. David Matas
11. Yude Henteleff
12. Sam Bronfman
13. Allan Gottlieb
14. Sylvia Ostry
15. Abe Arnold
16. Morley Cohen
17. Arthur Drache
18. Guy Kay
19. Aubie Angel
20. Sid Halter
21. Richard Kroft
22. Nathan  Mendelsohn
23. Roland Penner
24. Perry Rosemond
25. Val Werier
26. David Steinberg
27. Gail Asper
28. Izzy Asper
29. Victor Feldbrill
30. Sam Freedman
31. Harry Freedman
32. Charles  Hollenberg
33. Harry Medovy
34. Arnold Naimark
35. Barry Posner
36. Gerry Schwartz
37. Harry Walsh
38. Leo Yaffe

39. Dian Cohen
40. Harvey Chochinov
41. Samuel Cohen
42. Maxwell Cohen
43. Albert Cohen
44. David Golden
45. Yhetta Gold
46. Lyonel Israels
47. Steven Schipper
48. Evelyn Shapiro
49. Abe Yanofsky
50. Sybil Shack
50. Maitland Steinkopf
51. Joseph Cohen
52. Harry Cohen
53. Marshall Rothstein
54. Bernard Ostry

55. Avrom Isaacs

56. Anne Ross


One might well ask whether this list is valid, since it contains names of Manitoba recipients who do not live here now. My criteria (and you are free to challenge them) include that a person has or has to have had a real connection to the province - either by having grown up and having gone to school in Manitoba; or, having moved  and established a residence in Manitoba; or, by having run a business of some kind in Manitoba. My best guess is that readers will be able to identify most names and  the reasons they made the list.
A further observation: If your name was Cohen, then you had a really good shot to get in. And, just how many families anywhere can say they had as many representation as did the Cohen brothers: Joseph, Harry, Morley, and Albert? Another way into the elite club was to be a doctor, as there are at least seven of them on the list. It also helps to be male, as there are only seven women among the lot.
You might ask: How does one get a membership into the Order of Canada? Well, first  you have to be nominated - and that’s a process in itself. That is to say, somebody has to enter your name as a candidate and give two references who would be able to talk knowledgeably about you. There is a screening board that reduces the number of nominees,  then the remaining names are carefully scrutinized by a panel.
I’m not privy to the exact rules of the process; I just know it’s very tough to get in. After that, if you’re deemed a worthy candidate, you will be appointed to one of three classes: “Member”, “Officer,” or “Companion”.
A “Member” is at the so-called bottom rung of this ladder and “Companion” is at the top - usually reserved for politicians (Ed. note: no surprise there.) There is a process for elevation within these classes to the top of the heap.
Now, I suppose the obvious question is: How is it that so many  Jewish Manitobans have excelled to the degree that they’ve been appointed to the Order of Canada? One possibility is that there might have been more nominations for Jewish Manitobans  compared with other provinces. That’s possible - but I doubt it.
The more likely answer lies in what I like to call the “achievement gene” - something that, I would argue is very much a part o the makeup of so many Jewish Manitobans. Start with the notion of the Jew as outsider, driven to reach higher than others. Add to it the geographical factor, where Manitobans are more isolated (which was particularly the case among older winners). Those individuals had to focus on their particular assets and attributes. And, not to be overlooked, most of these winners grew up without TV and for sure, computers. They had to develop their own interests without being entertained. And they did. No doubt, if you studied each and every one of them, you would come up with a specific reason why he or she is a certain Order of Canada recipient. Whatever the reason, the results are staggering. Let the Order continue for the Jewish Manitobans.

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#1 Mr.Avrum Rosner 2018-01-17 18:09
Just wanted to add two old friends from Winnipeg, both appointed July 1, 2015: Phyllis Yaffe (née Freedman), and Martin Yaffe:

Martin Yaffe, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario

For his groundbreaking research in breast cancer screening and for his commitment to improving women’s health.

Phyllis Yaffe, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario

For her leadership in Canada’s cultural industry, as well as for her community service, notably as the founding chair of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis.