N.L. vet proud to be part of memorial
There isn’t a single July 1 service at the National War Memorial in St. John’s that Alistair Downton remembers missing
Alan Doyle, Chief Mi'sel Joe, autism activist Joyce Churchill and sculptor Michael Massie join ranks
Musician Alan Doyle is joining the Order of Canada, which is marking 50 years this year with some quintessential Canadian additions.
It was on July 1, 1967, that the Order of Canada received its first members. This Canada Day, the list of appointees will grow by 99, including Newfoundland’s Alan Thomas Doyle, Chief Mi'sel Joe of Conne River, Volunteer Hall of Famer Joyce Churchill and artist Michael Massie whose work as a sculptor and slversmith has brought him recognition.
Doyle is best known as the former lead singer of Great Big Sea, but has also developed a repertoire as a best-selling author and actor, now touring with his band The Beautiful Gypsies.
“If you look into the list of people who get this award, are all exceptional people in their own work life and in their own artistic life or political life or business life or whatever, but then they're almost always very community-minded people and people who have tried to give back to the place, their town, their city, their province, their country,” Doyle said.
“It’s humbling to be in that company, in all honesty.
“It's also quite motivational. It makes me want to do more stuff because I feel like it's important.”
When Doyle first started playing traditional music in Newfoundland and Labrador, he didn't do it because he felt obligated. Or that it was the right thing to do. Or that it was good for him or anyone else. It just came naturally, he said.
“I loved that kind of music and I loved playing it and I loved singing it, and I still love singing it,” Doyle said. “They're great songs to sing, so I sing them.”
Doyle started to sing those songs in the early 1990s when he, Sean McCann, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power formed the band Great Big Sea, playing in St. John's pubs. He continued to sing those songs over the next two decades with the group and more recently as a solo artist. He has also appeared in film and television, including the Canadian TV series “Republic of Doyle” (not named after him).
He has played the same stage as the Tragically Hip, and twice been on Parliament Hill for Canada Day, including 2011 when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, were in the front row.
“It's a real sort of capital-C, Canada moment to get to play that gig and I always feel a little bit sort of humbled by the chance to get to do it, to tell you the truth,” Doyle said.
Chief Mi’sel Joe is being recognized for his leadership in developing and enhancing the well-being and financial vitality of the Miawpukek First Nation. His story is chronicled in his biography “Mi’sel Joe: An Aboriginal Chief’s Journey.” (Flanker Press)
Joyce Churchill of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s has made large contributions in many areas. She was a founding member of the Autism Society of NL and worked to help establish the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John’s. She has also served as a nurse, an advocate for special needs, and as mayor of her community.
Michael Massie of Kippens was born in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Massie has been recognized for his original work that reflects his mixed Inuit-Metis heritage. He is being inducted as a member of the Order for his accomplishments as a silversmith and sculptor whose innovative combinations of themes and materials have pushed the boundaries of Inuit sculpture.
“It is an honour to become a member of a group of people that hold such high regard for their accomplishment throughout their career,” he told The Telegram Saturday afternoon. “To be considered for such a title is one thing but, to be selected is another! I'd like to thank all those who have believed in, followed, collected, supported, exhibited and taught me over the years. It's because of those people I am where I am today.”