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The Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec announces the 18 recipients for 2021

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Les 18 récipiendaires 2021 de l'Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec
The 18 new members of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec

The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) is pleased to announce the 18 new members of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. This prestigious honour awarded by the CALQ pays tribute to artists, writers, managers, and patrons in the cultural milieu for their outstanding contribution to the development and reputation of excellence of Québec arts and literature, at home and abroad.

Anik Bissonnette, André Brassard, Robert Charlebois, Dena Davida, Michel de la Chenelière, Sophie Deraspe, Louise Déry, François Girard, the late Jacques Godin, Claire Guimond, Elisapie Isaac, Kinya Ishikawa, Denis Marleau, Alain Mongeau, Joseph Nakhlé, Jacques Primeau, Jocelyne Saucier, and Gabor Szilasi are receiving the title of Compagne or Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Videos introducing each of the honourees will be released gradually in the next few weeks This link will open in a new window.

Arts and culture are essential vehicles for the well-being of Quebecers and the economic vitality of the province. The past year presented obstacles to the cultural milieu, impeding the creation of works and keeping them from audiences, although the public has continued to show love for the arts and support for local creators. The CALQ is proud to be a key actor in efforts included in the Plan de relance économique du milieu culturel (Cultural Sector Economic Recovery Plan). As many people prepare to take full advantage of the arts again, the CALQ is pleased today to celebrate and recognize the contribution of these Compagnes and Compagnons to enriching our culture.

“On behalf of the CALQ, I would like to express my immense admiration for these men and women who have revolutionized their art and shaped Québec culture and who are joining the ranks of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. Some of these luminaries have lit up the stage, others, working in the shadows, as patrons, artisans, and other cultural workers, have made incredible efforts to democratize their discipline, and their invaluable contribution must be highlighted.”

- Anne-Marie Jean, President and CEO of the CALQ

“At the Caisse de la Culture, we believe it is important to recognize artistic excellence and the outstanding careers of Québec artists, artisans, managers, and patrons of culture. This is why it is important to us to be associated with this prestigious honour, the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. On behalf of our cooperative, I salute the talent and achievements of those who are joining the Ordre and thank them for their invaluable contribution to our culture and its influence.”

- Marie-Christine Cojocaru, General Manager, Caisse Desjardins de la Culture

The Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec

An honorary distinction instituted in 2015 to mark the CALQ’s 20th anniversary, the Ordre des arts et des lettres 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. Over 100 Québec personalities currently wear the insignia.

See complete list

The Conseil de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec

Compagnes and Compagnons are recommended by the Conseil de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, a jury that evaluates nominations received in response to an annual call for candidates. The recommendations are ratified by the CALQ’s board of directors. This year, the jury was made up of Myriam Achard, Claude Deschênes, Nadia Myre, Jack Robitaille, and Mélissa Verreault.

Call for applications

The call for applications is issued to identify the next recipients. To find out how to submit a nomination, visit the Conseil’s website. Applications are accepted until October 15, 2021.

Submit an application

About the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture, official partner of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec

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 artists, artisans, and self-employed workers in their personal and professional projects, offering cultural 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.

About the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec

The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), a government corporation under the responsibility of the Minister of Culture and Communications, invests in the imagination and celebrates the successes of those who create memorable works, shape Québec’s cultural identity, and make it shine. With a view to equitable, sustainable artistic development, the CALQ supports creation, experimentation, and production in the arts and literature in all regions of Québec and promotes dissemination in Québec, Canada, and abroad.

The CALQ would like to thank the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture, main partner, Le Devoir, media partner, as well as the Place des Arts, the National Film Board, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and La Fabrique culturelle de Télé-Québecfor their invaluable cooperation in creating and promoting the videos.

List of the recipients and short biographies

Anik Bissonnette | Dance

Figurehead of the Grands Ballets Canadiens invited to perform around the world, principal dancer Anik Bissonnette has been a shining light on stage and inspired vocations that she now encourages as artistic director of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. A charismatic ambassador of dance and outstanding teacher, she is also an activist for access to culture and the development of patronage.

André Brassard | Theatre

Director, producer, and educator, André Brassard has 160 creations to his credit in 40 years. Distinguishing himself for his intelligent reading of the text and his nuanced direction, he offers new readings of great works from the repertoire and has transformed into classics pieces by contemporary Québec playwrights, such as Michel Tremblay, Michel Marc Bouchard, and Normand Chaurette.

Robert Charlebois| Popular song

A giant of song, for over a half a century Robert Charlebois has had hit after hit on either side of the Atlantic, in North America and Europe. His musical vision, artistic integrity, and powerful, timeless songs made him the first true rock star of his country and one of the francophonie creators whose international reputation has never faded.

Songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and singer, his extensive repertoire, which includes Lindberg, Ordinaire and Je reviendrai à Montréal, is both timeless and universal.

Dena Davida | Dance

A contemporary dancer, researcher, teacher, cultural mediator, and curator, Dena Davida has been revolutionizing the performing arts for over 45 years. A true “artivist,” she co-founded the first dance performance venue in Québec in 1980, Tangente. Always engaged, she is developing a field of study for performing arts curation and is putting together a historiographic collection of writing on Québec dance.

Michel de la Chenelière| Patron of the arts

Patrons of the arts are rare birds indeed. Michel de la Chenelière has the energy of an entire community when it comes to defending education through arts and culture. His major donations to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts have enabled the institution to triple its educational space.

A figurehead of French-language educational publishing and seasoned entrepreneur, Michel de la Chenelière has devoted his life to promoting the French language and through his foundation that bears his name pursues his mission to disseminate education and develop knowledge.

Sophie Deraspe| Film and video art

In screenwriting, directing, and direction of photography, filmmaker Sophie Deraspe questions the codes of representation in the intersections she creates between fiction and reality. Her films, including A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile, Les loups, and Vital Signs have been acclaimed at the most prestigious international festivals.

Her most recent film, Antigone, has been honoured many times over, including at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Gala du cinéma québécois, in addition to representing Canada for the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.

Louise Déry | Visual arts

As director of the Galerie de l’UQAM, exhibition curator, and professor, Louise Déry brings incredible know-how to museology and art history, as well as firm conviction. She has organized over 50 exhibitions in Canada and abroad, showcasing artists such as Françoise Sullivan, Michael Snow, and Dominique Blain.

She was also Canada’s curator for the Venice Biennale in 2007, proposing a piece by David Altmejd, igniting the sculptor’s career and confirming the impact of her own contribution to art in Québec.

François Girard| Film and video art

Filmmaker and director of opera and theatre, François Girard has earned an international reputation with his original, ambitious, international projects that have won over 100 prestigious awards. The Red Violon, which won an Oscar for Best Original Score, Silk, adapted from the novel by Alessandro Barrico and recognized with a Jutra Award and a Genie Award, and Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Live, which earned a Grammy for best concert film, offer just a glimpse of his impressive track record.

More recently, the poignant The Song of Names, adapted from the novel by Norman Lebrecht, earned him five statuettes at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Canadian Screen Awards.

Jacques Godin| Film and theatre

A giant of Québec theatre, television and film, Jacques Godin earned renown in almost 230 productions over seven decades, moving seamlessly between eras. His many performances, including Lennie in Des souris et des hommes and Jérémie Martin in Sous le signe du lion, have gone down in Québec television history, leaving an indelible mark in the hearts of television audiences.

Honoured many times for his powerful and sensitive acting, Jacques Godin was not in it for the glory. He had such passion that he wanted to live forever just to keep acting, much to our delight, for as long as he could.

Claire Guimond| Music

Renowned flutist, teacher involved in promoting early music, and co-founder, general director, and artistic director of Arion Baroque Orchestra, Claire Guimond has managed with both rigour and enthusiasm a career marked with success over four decades. National musical figurehead, she recently made the transition from her role as artistic director for a quartet that has become a large orchestra and the only one performing early music on period instruments in Québec.

Elisapie Isaac| Popular song

Songwriter, performer, musician, and director, Elisapie Isaac grew up in Salluit, Nunavik, before her talent brought her to the stages of the world. From radio to song and television to cinema, the trilingual “Beauty of the North” has become the ambassador for an eclectic Inuit culture in transition.

Kinya Ishikawa | Arts and crafts

Of Japanese origin, Kinya Ishikawa was introduced to ceramics soon after his arrival in Québec. His pieces, which he initially considered utilitarian, have made their way to countless international exhibitions. And yet, Kinya Ishikawa has never defined himself by his great reputation, but rather by his desire to rally, join forces, and share.

The creative force behind the sale and exhibition space 1001 Pots in Val-David, he contributes to the success of hundreds of artisans and enables Québec ceramics to shine internationally.

Denis Marleau| Theatre

An iconic figure of Québec theatre, Denis Marleau has been making his mark since the early 1980s as a director, set designer, adapter, and, since the beginning of the 2000s, master of phantasmagoria. His dramaturgical choices often in the margins, his complex mise-en-scènes that brilliantly integrate technology, and his rigorous direction of acting form a unique artistic process.

His creation company, UBU, has been welcomed at prestigious international festivals, contributing to a reputation that made him the first Québec director invited to the Comédie-Française.

Alain Mongeau | Digital arts

A digital artist, computer communications researcher, founder, artistic director, and manager of the MUTEK festival, Alain Mongeau has been making his mark on digital arts for over 25 years. With his incredible vision, he has propelled Québec creativity onto the international stage and transformed Montréal into a world capital of digital arts.

Joseph Nakhlé| Performing arts

Founder of the organization Alchimies, Créations et Cultures and events he has created under its banner – the Arab World Festival of Montreal and the Festival Orientalys – Joseph Nakhlé celebrates a plural, avant-garde Montréal, bringing together cultures and drawing nourishment from difference.

Creator and artistic director of productions of the Arab World Festival of Montreal, co-author with a collective of artists of the essay Arabitudes, he uses dialogue to form essential connections and build bridges between culture and creation.

Jacques Primeau | Multidisciplinary arts

He has vision and determination, and he knows how to surround himself with the right people to execute his ingenious ideas. Jacques Primeau has always known that success is a team effort, to say the least. A producer and artist’s manager for close to 40 years, Jacques Primeau was president of the Coalition des arts de la scène and the ADISQ, where his vision for the Quartier des spectacles was born.

After 15 years on the board of directors of the Quartier des spectacles Partnership, including seven years as its chair, he then headed up the Équipe Spectra, showing his same love for his industry. He is ready to see a new sparkle in the eye of the district of dreams and imagination he saw come to fruition.

Jocelyne Saucier | Literature

Jocelyne Saucier always knew she wanted to write. She started as a journalist, and then took the plunge, in her worldly-wise thirties, into writing novels. Her first stories, La vie comme une image (finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards), Les héritiers de la mine (finalist for the Prix littéraire France-Québec), and Jeanne sur les routes (finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Prix Ringuet) positioned her as an author with a humanist sensibility, clearing the path for what would follow.

Her ode to life, Il pleuvait des oiseaux, which won many awards, including the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie, brought her writing to a wider audience. The novel has been translated into over 15 languages and was adapted for the big screen by director Louise Archambault. In 2020, the author published her fifth novel, À train perdu.

Gabor Szilasi | Visual arts

Born in Hungary, Gabor Szilasi became a major figure in photography in Québec by documenting rural areas, as well as architecture, the streets, and the people of his adopted city, Montréal. Recipient of the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media, his work has been featured in some 100 exhibitions in Canada and Europe.


Myriam Lefebvre

Communications Advisor

Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec

418-528-2583 / 1 800 608-3350

Thara Tremblay-Nantel


Thara Communications

514 208-6897

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