Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: Recipients of the Order of British Columbia


286 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894384-52-0
DDC 929'.8'1711





Reviewed by Joan A. Lovisek

Joan Lovisek, Ph.D., is a consulting anthropologist and ethnohistorian
in British Columbia.


If you have ever wondered what motivates people to engage in charitable
acts, Ordinary Peoples, Extraordinary Lives provides a clue. Although
not well known, the Order of British Columbia is the highest award given
to citizens of the province for contributions to their communities. The
17 recipients of the OBC whom Niosi profiles in this book are Merve
Wilkinson, who is internationally renowned for his contributions to
sustainable forestry; Geraldine Braak, who is blind and who works
tirelessly for people with disabilities; Dr. Michael O’Shaughnessy, a
“champion” for AIDS research; Richard Hunt of the Kwa-giulth First
Nation, for raising awareness of Northwest Native art; Mel Cooper, the
man who made Expo ’86 happen; Grace Elliott-Nielsen, a developer of
Aboriginal programs; Dr. Roger Hayward Rogers, for his dedication to
health and healing; Rick Hanson, “the man in motion” who has raised
millions for spinal-cord research; Tim Frick, who coaches disabled
athletes; Dr. Roger Tonkin, for his work with adolescent health; Hilda
Gregory, for her work with deaf children; Takao Tanabe, for his
paintings of B.C. landscapes and mentoring of young artists; Dr. Leonel
Perra, for his contributions in education; Ric Careless, for his efforts
in wilderness preservation; Joan Acosta, for her work in adult literacy;
Ross Purse, for his contributions to the Canadian National Institute for
the Blind; and Robert Bateman, artist and naturalist, for donating his
paintings to raise funds for environmental preservation.

The book consists of easy-to-read mini-biographies. The older
recipients have the more interesting stories, having lived more varied
lives and sometimes under appalling conditions. In contrast, some of the
contributions of younger recipients are more conventional in form, like
volunteering in an impressive number of organizations. None of the
recipients appears as a “do-gooder”; these are people just doing
what they do because they want to, for which they (and this book) should
be lauded.


Niosi, Goody., “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: Recipients of the Order of British Columbia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/10093.