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She walked in by happenstance, she said.
What followed was three Olympic medals in short-track speed skating, travelling the world for international competitions, serving as chef de mission for Canada at the Vancouver Olympics, and a lifetime in sport as a coach, official, mentor and instructor.
Lambert is one of 113 Canadians whom Rideau Hall announced Thursday will be invested into the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours and one that recognizes Canadians who have been high achievers in their fields, or have shown dedication or service to their community and country.
The list released on the eve of Canada Day includes writers like Jacques Godbout and Robert Sawyer; editorial cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon; Michael Budman and Don Green, founders of retailer Roots Canada Ltd.; former senator Sharon Carstairs; Isabel Bassett, former CEO of TVOntario and a former Ontario cabinet minister; Marie Wilson, a commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and Dennis O’Connor, a retired judge who headed inquiries into the Maher Arar affair and the tainted-water scandal in Walkerton, Ont.
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 and has more than 6,500 members.
Lambert said even though her name will be entered into the Order of Canada, she is only there because of those around her who pushed her to be better at her sport: her teammates, her rivals, her coaches, and her late mother.
She said she felt almost uncomfortable accepting the honour as an individual who plays in a team sport.
Nicholas grew up one of 12 children to a family on the Tobique First Nation reserve in New Brunswick. He struggled to learn English as a child, failing Grade 1 so he could have another year to work on his language skills.
Nicholas did his undergraduate degree in science. A law degree followed. Then came 12 years with the Union of New Brunswick Indians. In 1991, he became the first aboriginal appointed to be a provincial judge in New Brunswick, then in 2009 the first to be lieutenant-governor.
“I never asked to be a judge. I never asked to be a lieutenant-governor. And I certainly did not ask for this either,” he said.
“Someone, somewhere must have seen something and thought, ‘Well, you know, let’s give this person an opportunity and a chance,’ and I’m grateful for that.”