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Hans Blohm’s investiture to the Order of Canada & “From Far and Wide – Honouring Great Canadians” exhibit opening

Version française de ce texte.

On Friday May 25th, 2012 @ 10:30AM, several of us from the Yukon to Germany, from Ottawa to Switzerland, stopped whatever we were doing, ran to our computer and called up the Governor General’s website. In a few minutes, our friend Hans-Ludwig Blohm, was to officially become a Member of the Order of Canada, and we could watch the ceremony live! What an exciting moment!

Of the 44 individuals being awarded the Order of Canada that day, Hans was second in line to receive the honour. Once his name was called, he was escorted to the front of the room, bowed in front of Governor General David Johnson and took place to his right, facing the attendees while his citation was read :

Hans-Ludwig Blohm has helped to protect, preserve and promote Canada’s northern culture through his camera lens. An acclaimed photographer, he has travelled extensively throughout the country’s northern regions, capturing images and stories of the Inuit, and chronicling the lives and events that have shaped the region. His exhibitions, which also feature his innovative work in microchip photography, have toured the world, while his photos have graced the pages of many books, magazines and Canadian postage stamps.

I just couldn’t resist taking a few shots of my computer screen.

Hans Blohm standing while his citation was being read (TV screen capture)

Hans then joined the Governor General to receive his medal.

Governor General awarding the Member of the Order of Canada medal to Hans Blohm. (TV screen capture)

Both men turned towards the event’s official photographer to have this moment immortalize. I’m sure that, for a few seconds, Hans was brought back to Nov 24th, 1967 as he was one of the few accredited photographers covering the very first Order of Canada investiture ceremony.

Here’s the link where you can see the official photography of Hans shaking hands with Governor General David Johnson.

Later that evening, as Hans was standing in the line up for the recipients’ group photo, M. Robert R. Fowler, who was also invested into the Order of Canada as an Officer, turned around, grabbed Hans’ camera from his hands and took this shot of a very proud Hans:

Hans Blohm, Member of the Order of Canada.

As Hans later explained, another big surprise was awaiting him that evening:

To my great surprise, the Governor General came over to our table after the evening’s dinner – before coffee and dessert- and presented me to my utter surprise with my second medal of the day: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal!!

Hans Blohm wears proudly his newly awarded Member of the Order of Canada & Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee medals

WOO HOO!! Congratulations, Hans, for your dedication, perseverance and achievements! You are a true inspiration to many of us and we are most proud to see your name on the list of Great Canadians! But, as Governor General Johnson told the new recipients during the investiture ceremony:

…this does not mean the end of your careers or your contributions. There is so much still be accomplished, so much to improve in our country to make it smarter, more caring. And you are leading the way. (…)

Your stories are powerful. They can inspire and give hope. That is why, when you return home, you should not hesitate to share your stories. Because when you do so—with confidence and with pride—you are fulfilling one of the responsibilities of being a member of the Order of Canada: to encourage others to achieve their own greatness. (…)

The task before us is to make sure that we prepare the next generation—the Order of Canada recipients of the future—to take their places in society, to discover their own greatness and to contribute to our national identity in their own unique ways.

There is no doubt in my mind that Hans will live up to those expections. It is always with great pleasure that he shares his experiences and knowledge and transmits his passion. Less than a week before the investiture ceremony, I had the privilege of accompanying Hans to the official opening of the From Far and Wide – Hounouring Great Canadians exhibit.

Interpretative panels of the National Honours exhibit.

Even though Hans was invited to attend the ceremony as a guest, it is impossible to take the photographer out of him!! While the medias were standing in the small area that had been reserved for them in the centre of the room, Hans was everywhere! On the second floor, watching the arrival of the Governor General so that he could capture him with the parliament in the background. In the staircase, taking a general view of the event during the Governor General’s speech. By the time the Governor General was ready to cut the ribbon, Hans had made his way across the room and appeared on the side ready to shoot. It was fascinating to watch him work!!

Mrs Gabrielle Lappa, director of Honours, Chancellery of Honours

Governor General David Johnson

Governor General David Johnson posing for Hans Blohm just before cutting the ribbon

Governor General David Johson cutting the ribbon to officialize the opening of the exhibit

Hans had simply brought a small point-and-shoot camera and all I had was my iPhone but I nevertheless had fun trying to capture him at work!

Governor General David Johnson congratulating a Canadian military on his newborn baby and on the recognition he was awarded. His story is one that was selected to be highlighted in the exhibit.

It was a challenge to navigate in the crowded room and get a good composition. By following Hans discretely (well! As the above picture as was not always as discreet as I should have been ;-)), I was hoping to be in the proper place if the Governor General ended up talking to him. But, at some point, I got distracted for a few minutes. Well! Guess what? That’s exactely when the Governor General stopped and shook Hans’ hand and exchanged a few words with him. I missed the shot I was looking for! Hans only told me a few days later. I guess I’ll have to continue observing the pro and practice !!

Besides photography, one thing Hans taught me is that if you have a project at heart, take it in your own hands! Don’t wait and rely on others! Take the lead and do everything you can to make it happen! That’s Hans’ recipe for realizing several of his achievements, namely his book “Pebbles to Computers” which required him to travel to 13 countries over a six years period. The book was also turned into a one hour TVOntario documentary as well as an international exhibit with four copies circulating simultaneously on four continents! Understandably, it became one of the achievement he is most proud of.

Since 1967, over one million Canadians have been honoured with awards, medals and decorations! There are so many inspiring stories to discover! If you know of someone who has made a significant contribution, don’t be shy to nominate them. It all starts with people like you & I submitting a name to the Chancellery of Honours.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, go visit this new exhibit on National Honours. Be inspired by the stories of several Canadians from across the country and from all walks of life. The exhibit is being presented until November 2012 in the building just across from Parliament Hill (90 Wellington Street) in Ottawa.

France Rivet

From Far and Wide - Honouring Great Canadians exhibit

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