Seventeen new Québec cultural ambassadors will become members of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec during an insignia award ceremony on May 27, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
This prestigious honour granted by the CALQ is a tribute to their remarkable contribution to ensuring Québec’s arts and literature develop, flourish, and earn a reputation for excellence, at home and abroad.
“For the past 25 years, the Caisse de la Culture has been supporting artists in their personal and professional projects and giving them the resources they need to realize their ambitions,” said Marie-Christine Cojocaru, general manager of the Caisse de la Culture. “It is an honour for the Caisse to join with the CALQ during this anniversary year to celebrate the passion of these new Québec cultural ambassadors and their invaluable contribution to the influence of our culture.”
An honorary distinction instituted in 2015 to mark the CALQ’s 20th anniversary, the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec is awarded to luminaries whose outstanding achievements have helped make the arts and literature thrive in Québec. The honour is symbolized by an insignia designed by jewellery artist Christine Dwane. Some 90 Québec personalities currently wear the insignia. See the complete list.
The Compagnons and Compagnes are recommended by the Conseil de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, a jury that evaluates the nominations received in response to the annual call for candidates. The recommendations are ratified by the Conseil’s board of directors. This year, the jury was made up of Hannah Claus, Claude Deschênes, Kevin McCoy, and Mélissa Verreault.
An ally to artists, a driver of the cultural economy, and a springboard for organizations and entrepreneurs, the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture is a financial cooperative with deep roots in the community. For the past 25 years, it has been supporting self-employed workers in their personal and professional projects, offering businesses and organizations financial services adapted to their needs, and participating in the socioeconomic development of the cultural milieu by supporting structuring efforts and projects.
From a perspective of equitable, sustainable artistic development, the CALQ supports, throughout Québec, creation, experimentation, and production in the arts and literature and promotes dissemination and the influence of Québec, in Canada and abroad.
Follow and share news about the awarding of the Ordre using #OALQ on the CALQ’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.
List of recipients and short biographies
Daniela Arendasova | Circus
A gymnast, choreographer, and coach born in Bratislava, Daniela Arendasova is the director of studies at the National Circus School, where she has taught several disciplines including contortion since 1988. She has set up high school and college circus studies programs for artists and circus arts teachers. Daniela has trained generations of artists who have received international awards and has promoted the professionalization of highly skilled artists of tomorrow, contributing to the recognition of the circus arts in Québec.
Michel Marc Bouchard | Theatre
Playwright, screenwriter, and artistic director for historical and thematic exhibitions, Michel Marc Bouchard is the author of over 25 plays, including Les Feluettes (Lilies), Les Muses orphelines (The Orphan Muses), L’Histoire de l’oie (The Tale of Teeka), Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), and Christine, la reine-garçon (Christina, the Girl King), all of which have been adapted for film. Recipient of numerous awards, his work has been translated into a number of languages and staged around the world, notably in France, Italy, and Latin America. A professor at the National Theatre School of Canada, he also pursues a career as a librettist for operas in Montreal and Toronto.
Alan Côté | Popular song
Self-taught singer and songwriter, Alan Côté founded the Forge Café at the Théâtre de la Vieille Forge de Petite-Vallée and is general manager and artistic director of the Village en chanson de Petite-Vallée, which encourages the transmission of the craft of songwriting through patronage. His commitment and initiatives have fostered the emergence and recognition of generations of songwriters and enriched the cultural scene on the Gaspé Peninsula, which every summer plays host to audiences of French song enthusiasts.
Céline Dion | Popular song
A singer who achieved global celebrity as a teenager, Céline Dion is Québec’s most internationally recognized artist ever. Her voice is impressively versatile, moving easily between R&B, gospel, pop, and jazz, in French, English, and occasionally in Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Mandarin. She is among the artists who have sold the most records in the history of the industry and has won a multitude of awards, from Grammys to Oscars.
André Dudemaine | Theatre
Through his unfaltering commitment and visionary efforts, André Dudemaine has made an outstanding contribution to the recognition and influence of North American Indigenous cultures. Of Innu origin and having grown up in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, he is the founder and artistic director of Land InSights, and for almost 30 years has been managing Montréal’s multidisciplinary First Peoples Festival. He is also one of the most prominent members of the First Nations film community.
Françoise Faucher | Theatre
Actress, author, interviewer, host, and director, Françoise Faucher has marked our cultural life and inspired generations of actors through her rich, thoughtful performances, her intelligence, and her sensitivity. She has enjoyed a career in radio, television, film, and on the stage, playing over 150 roles of all types, from boulevard to avant-garde, by classic and modern authors.
Serge Fiori | Popular song
Singer songwriter, self-taught musician, and producer, Serge Fiori cofounded the cult band Harmonium. From L’Heptade to his eponymous album, Serge Fiori has made his mark with his voice and the power, originality, and complexity of his compositions. His creative efforts have led him to folk, progressive rock, new age, and film music. After having worked with some of the greatest artists in Québec song, he now devotes his time to up-and-coming artists.
Paul-André Fortier | Dance
Dancer, choreographer, and educator, Paul-André Fortier has made an outstanding contribution to the development and influence of Québec contemporary dance. His research, rigour, and penchant for risk paved the way for dance freed from past forms. He has created some 50 bold choreographies, often drawing on other artistic disciplines and new technology. His creative approach always goes hand in hand with a strong commitment to the dance community.
Brigitte Haentjens | Theatre
Born in France, director, choreographer, and author Brigitte Haentjens was a leader in Franco-Ontarian creation before moving to Québec, where she founded her own company, Sibyllines. A woman of the theatre and literature, she has made her mark with her vision, high expectations in her choice of authors, and the innovative aesthetics of her creations, which often explore questions of female identity, power, and sexuality. She is the artistic director of the National Arts Centre French theatre and has also managed the Carrefour International de Théâtre and the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier.
Suzanne Lebeau | Theatre
Actor, playwright, and co-founder – with Gervais Gaudreault – of the theatre company Le Carrousel, Suzanne Lebeau is the author of some 30 works, as well as adaptations and translations. Fueled by a passion for telling children the truth and stimulating awareness, she is recognized internationally as a prominent figure in theatre for young audiences and one of the Québec playwrights whose work is the most translated and staged around the world.
Zab Maboungou | Dance
Choreographer, performer, philosopher, writer, speaker, and teacher of French and Congolese origin, Zab Maboungou is the artistic director of Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata. Whether in Québec or touring internationally, she builds bridges between cultures with her pieces and their rooted, dynamic, spare movements. Drawing on the rhythmic bases of African dance and music, she invented the Loketo technique, considered a model in its genre.
Nadia Myre | Visual arts
A member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg Algonguin First Nation, Nadia Myre is a major figure in contemporary Indigenous art and among the great contemporary artists. Her multidisciplinary work is part of a participative effort that addresses themes of identity, language, resilience, memory, desire, and loss. Winner of the 2014 Sobey Art Award, she was selected for the Biennale de Montréal and Biennale of Sydney and has shown her work at home and abroad.
Alain Paré | Performing arts
Founder, president, and executive director of the Conférence internationale des arts de la scène (CINARS), Alain Paré has made an outstanding contribution to the influence of Québec performing arts and the development of strategic export markets for local creations. For the past 45 years, his vision, engagement, initiatives, and dedication have provided springboards for hundreds of artists and organizations, promoting their international development and unprecedented economic benefits.
Rodney Saint-Éloi | Literature
Born in Haiti, writer, publisher, and translator Rodney Saint-Éloi is the author of some 10 poetry collections, a number of works of non-fiction on literature and painting, and many translations from French to Creole. He founded the Montréal publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, whose catalogue features works by renowned writers and new voices from diverse origins. His approach based in solidarity, ethics, and humanism is guided by his interest in memory and the history of dispossessed peoples.
Peter Simons | Patron
Peter Simons is a brilliant entrepreneur and patron known for his generosity, sensitivity to the arts, and respect for creators. In every Simons store owned by the family business, the public can admire a monumental work by a local artist, in addition to the distinctive architecture and thoughtful design. Peter Simons founded Fabrique 1840, which promotes the work of dozens of creators and craftspeople. The Simons family donated the Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale’s Fontaine de Tourny to Quebec City.
Pierre Thibault | Architecture
An internationally renowned architect, Pierre Thibault has been leaving his mark on our landscape for over 30 years. Characterized by excellence in design and the architectural language developed, his creative approach focuses on the “happiness factor” and respect for the environment. He is behind major achievements in the institutional, cultural, and residential sectors, placing human beings in constant interaction with the territory they inhabit, whether natural or urban.
Kim Thúy | Literature
Born in Vietnam, Kim Thúy arrived in Québec at age 10 with the boat people. She wrote her first novel in French, Ru (2009), which was a huge success. Uprooting, reconstruction, and the exploration of her dual identity were threads that ran through this intimate novel with universal appeal, which has been translated into 25 languages. She is a lover of life and words and resilience embodied, and she has proven that humour and literature can triumph over tragedy.