Professor Christl Verduyn recognized for her work in Canadian Studies as a professor and author
On Dec. 29, 2017, Mount Allison professor Dr. Christl Verduyn was appointed to the Order of Canada.
The Order of Canada’s website says that it recognizes Canadians in any field of work who have demonstrated “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation,” at the national or local level.
Verduyn, Canadian studies program director, English professor and author, was inducted “for her contributions to Canadian studies, notably as a professor and author, and for her commitment to making Canadian literature accessible to a broader audience,” according to the Order of Canada’s appointment statement.
“You’re just elated, and then immediately humbled,” said Verduyn on the news of her appointment. “I think what I’ve also felt is energized. I just feel like – yes! Keep going!”
Verduyn expressed her appreciation for the order’s ability to recognize a wide range of Canadians’ achievements, and her excitement at being included in so diverse and varied a group. “It’s right across the board. It isn’t just academics, it isn’t just artists – it’s shopkeepers, it’s hockey coaches, it’s people from small towns, from big cities, it’s all sorts of people from different walks of life, and I think that’s fantastic. I’m part of this huge group of many different people, and that feels great,” she said. “It’s not about elitism, even though people might think that at first. When you look into it, it’s about the everyday Canadian who has given something to the community or the country. That’s what I love!”
Verduyn also emphasized that her appointment reflected not only her own work, but her interactions with others and the community, from her students and colleagues to the writers she studies and works with.
She spoke about her work in Canadian studies and literature, and her desire to cast a light on topics that are often overlooked or neglected. Verduyn was enthusiastic about her work, describing the powerful and potentially life-changing insight literature can give into others’ lives and experiences.
“As a student of Canadian literature, I’ve always been interested in what’s on the edges,” Verduyn said. “Those are the writers I wanted to read. Of course I read all the celebrated, amazing writers, but I always wanted to push further. I think the first area I pushed into was women writers, and then within that group there are all sorts of groups of women again – women from the Black community, the Indigenous community, the immigrant community.”
Other recent appointees include journalist Sally Armstrong, poet and author Lee Maracle, Québécois director Denis Villeneuve and William Shatner, known for his role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek. Verduyn also joins her husband, current Mt A. president Dr. Robert Campbell, who was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to academia.