Sarah McLachlan and Geoff Courtnall
Sarah McLachlan and Geoff Courtnall

Half Moon Run


Artes nos tenent et inspirant is the latin phrase emblazoned on the GGPAA emblem which means, “the arts engage and inspire us”. It is the same wording inscribed on the medals given to each of the publically elected awardees each year since the GGPAA’s inception in 1992, an event set in motion by the support of our late Governor General HR Ramon John Hnatyshyn. Engaging and inspiring exactly describes the kind of night that was witnessed and felt by many at this star-studded gala held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Saturday evening. This year, seven Canadians were honoured for their lifetime contribution and undying dedication to Canada’s arts culture. The achievements of laureates, Walter Boudreau, Atom Egoyan, R.H. Thomson, Diana Leblanc, Sarah McLachlan, Michael M. Koerner, and Jean-Marc Vallée, were brought to light by various performers, guest speakers, and filmed segments produced by the National Film Board of Canada. One by one, each recipient was celebrated not just for their artistry, but also hailed for their work as mentors, philanthropists, teachers and visionaries.

After the preliminary traditional red carpet entrances were made, gala guests made their way into Southam Hall, as the laureates were escorted to their places of honour in the balcony area, overlooking the admiring crowd, and the grand stage. Juno award winner, Kellylee Evans kicked off the evening by singing the national anthem. What followed was a fanfare evening full of entertaining delights of music, theatre, and film, filled in with stirring speeches of gratitude and career highlights of each award recipient, that left me in a heady whirlwind of inspiration, and a feeling of immense pride for our Canadian art contributions to the world.

ATOM EGOYAN – 2015 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

There’s something very special that happens when you point a camera at a human face.” Egoyan’s signature non-linear plots in his films explore themes of isolation and dares to examine the realities that lie behind the closed doors of the mind and heart. He is also a visual artist, theatre and opera director, and provides mentoring to up-and-coming filmmakers. Some of his award-winning films include, “Exotica”(1994), “The Sweet Hereafter” (1997), and his biggest commercial blockbuster, “Chloe” (2009).

WALTER BOUDREAU – 2015 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music) 

It is the artists who ask the great questions and who propose the magnificent answers.” Composer and conductor, Boudreau infuses and encourages free expression and exclamation into writing musical art. A longtime supporter of contemporary music, he has composed a vast number of symphonies and concertos for film, ballet, and theatre, including his remarkable participatory effort, “Millenium Symphony” (2000), which included 19 composers, 333 musicians, and 2,000 bell ringers.

Serena Ryder
Serena Ryder

DIANA LEBLANC – 2015 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre) 

If there’s anything else that has the possibility of engaging you, keeping your mind open and interested – pursue it. But if you have a desperate need, well then you’ve got to do it.” Gemini award winner Leblanc is a well-known TV and film actress, whose career has grown to include directing theatre, radio, opera, TV, and film. She is a founding member of the renowned Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto. Her lifelong fascination of the human spirit is ever present in her acting, and she instills this sense of open-mindedness and quiet observation in her teaching and direction.

SARAH MCLACHLAN – 2015 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Popular Music)

Music saved my life in so many ways, and I want all kids to have that experience.” In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, McLachlan blazed a trail with her heartfelt lyrics and her signature ethereal tones of her voice. Her philanthropic efforts include Lilith Fair – a series of concerts which joined together women in music, brought their careers to the forefront, and raised over $7,000,000 for charities. Her music school in Vancouver, funded through the Sarah McLachlan Foundation, offers free musical education to hundreds of aspiring young students each year.

R.H. THOMSON – 2015 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

Birds sing, and bees dance…we tell stories.” Thomson’s vast acting and directing career has seen him in over 70 productions in film, television, and theatre. He wrote and starred in his own play, “The Lost Boys”, which was inspired by letters that five of his great uncles wrote during WWI. Thomson’s belief in preserving our heritage through family history and passed-down stories, displays the importance of who we are, where we came from, and a continued search for meaning in our lives.

MICHAEL M. KOERNER – 2015 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

The most important thing in life, is to be able to express yourself.” (Lawren Harris – Group of Seven artist) Koerner has had the love of music in his veins in a philanthropic career that has spanned some 50 years. He has given generous support to hundreds of arts organizations and sits at the helm of many of them, including Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The construction of his state-of-the-art concert theatre, Koerner Hall, is a testament of his dedication to the arts, drawing a wealth of the world’s most acclaimed musicians to its stage.

JEAN-MARC VALLÉE – 2015 National Arts Centre Award

Colm Feore
Colm Feore

Life is a learning process. Humanity must evolve with its errors.” The films of Jean-Marc Vallée delve into humanity’s imperfections, and embraces them with a dramatic and visual intensity. Music also plays a major role in his films, which he feels is key to adding atmospheric elements to further enhance the story. His highly acclaimed movies include “C.R.A.Z.Y.” (2005), “The Young Victoria” (2010), “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013), “Wild” (2014), and soon-to-be-released, “Demolition”, which will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, completing an impressive marathon of 3 movies within 3 years. 

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