Former AU President Dr. Frits Pannekoek and adjunct Professor of Communications Fil Fraser are among eight Albertans to be honoured with the Alberta Order of Excellence — the highest accolade bestowed upon citizens in the province.
Dr. Pannekoek was president of Athabasca University from 2005 through 2014 and is a scholar and tutor in Western Canadian history. He has also served as president of the International Council for Open and Distance Education and as a member of the Alberta SuperNet Research Alliance.
“It will be an extreme honour to be inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence,” says Pannekoek, citing the “privilege” of having helped to nurture heritage aspects within Alberta communities from the preservation of historic buildings to highlighting the province’s past online through websites including Alberta Heritage Digitization and Our Roots.
Pannekoek also helped launch the Lois Hole Digital Library and the University of Calgary digital library, nationally, through AU’s move to online learning and its open-access press — as well as internationally, through the International Council of Distance Education (to ensure the developing world benefited from online learning).
“The world is certainly a different place than it was 40 years ago when I started my career,” Pannekoek remarks, noting his past commitment to ensure indigenous and rural communities saw themselves reflected in internet content.
Says Pannekoek: “Alberta’s and Athabasca University’s leadership in the digital world ought to be something of which we are all proud of. It continues to be a privilege to have been a part of this incredible journey of change.”
Fil Fraser is a distinguished journalist, broadcaster, and radio, TV and film producer. He wrote the best-selling memoir Alberta’s Camelot – Culture and the Arts in the Lougheed Years.
Since November 2003, Fraser has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Telefilm Canada, and is a member of the boards of numerous national and regional organizations.
He is Chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation, created under the patronage of the late Lieutenant Governor, Hon. Lois E. Hole.
The Edmonton-based Fraser is also a member of the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame in 2005.
The six other Alberta Order of Excellence members to be invested this fall include David Bissett and Janice Eisenhauer of Calgary; Jack Donald of Red Deer; Stan Grad of Airdrie; and Jacob Masliyah and Dennis Erker of Edmonton.
Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell commended the honours in a release to the media.
“These great Albertans have led the way in building our province. In addition to setting a standard of excellence in their respective fields of endeavour, they have inspired us all with their sterling citizenship and unwavering commitment to community service.”
And newly elected Premier Rachel Notley concurred. “Through these honours we are reminded that one person has the power to create meaningful change.
“It is this spirit that leads Albertans to achieve great things, and gives me great optimism for the future of the province.”
In 2012, both Pannekoek and Fraser were recognized by the Calgary Stampede in its centennial celebrations as 100 most influential Albertans of the century for their respective work.
The investiture ceremony will be held in Edmonton on Oct. 14 — bringing the total membership of the Alberta Order of Excellence to 148.