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2 Concordians appointed to the Order of Canada

Donald A. MacPherson and Peter R. O’Brien among latest recipients
July 4, 2023
By Damon van der Linde, BA 08

Two Concordians have been named to the Order of Canada — one of the country’s highest civilian honours — in recognition of their extraordinary and sustained contributions to Canadian society.

Since its creation in 1967, the Order of Canada has honoured more than 7,800 people whose service, innovation and compassion have helped shape their communities and society.

Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, announced 85 new appointments to, and one promotion within, the Order on June 30, 2023.

Congratulations to these distinguished members of our Concordia community!

Portrait of a man with light grey hair, wearing glasses, suit blazer and blue dress shirt with polka-dot tie

Donald A. MacPherson, BA 82

Member of the Order of Canada

“For his long-time advocacy of harm reduction and evidence-based approaches to drug policy reform.”

Donald MacPherson is an acclaimed human-rights advocate and one of Canada’s leading figures in drug policy.

For more than three decades, he has advocated for renewed local, national and international drug policies that are based on principles of public health, scientific evidence and social inclusion. 

In 2000, MacPherson became the City of Vancouver’s drug policy coordinator, the first position of its kind in North America. Since 2020, he has served as chair of the Amsterdam-based International Drug Policy Consortium.

The Faculty of Arts and Science graduate is additionally the founding executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, a non-partisan, policy advocacy group comprised of more than 50 organizations.

Among MacPherson’s awards are the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013) and the Kaiser Foundation National Award of Excellence in Public Policy in Canada (2007). He is currently an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Portrait of a smiling man against a dark backdrop, wearing glasses and a dark blazer over a white shirt and dark tie

Peter R. O’Brien

Member of the Order of Canada

“For his committed volunteer leadership of health, education and faith-based organizations in his community.”

Peter R. O’Brien is a retired corporate lawyer who has generously shared his time and expertise to help guide a number of boards of directors.

At Concordia, O’Brien was involved with the School of Irish Studies as the founding chair, and later director, of the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation, and also board chair of the John Molson MBA International Case Competition from 2011 to 2015. 

He additionally served as board chair for the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the McGill University Health Centre.

O’Brien formerly ran his own legal practice in corporate, commercial and real-estate law in Montreal, and has served as a board member for several innovative local companies.  

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