Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty announced the 10 recipients of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit on Friday. These outstanding individuals will be invested at a ceremony held in their honour when public gatherings resume.
The list includes a former MLA for Weyburn, Dr. Lorne Hepworth, now a resident of London, Ont.
“It was quite surprising to get the news. I’m very honoured to receive this award, and I’m very humbled by this honour. It’s a sharp reminder of all the great times and the great people I got to know as a veterinarian in Weyburn, and as a legislator and cabinet minister for the constituency of Weyburn,” said Hepworth in an interview.
“These were just wonderful people I got to know in the time I spent in Weyburn and in Saskatchewan,” he added, noting that he is in “very heavy company” with the other recipients of the Order of Merit.
Dr. Hepworth was raised on a farm near Assiniboia, and these farm roots served him well in his professional life. After graduating in 1971 from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in veterinary medicine, he successfully practiced in Weyburn.
From 1982 to 1991, he represented Weyburn as their member of the Legislative Assembly, holding several cabinet positions, including agriculture, education and finance.
For the next nearly 20 years, he was involved in leadership roles in the plant science industry, serving as president and CEO of CropLife Canada, the trade association representing companies involved in crop protection and plant biotechnology.
During that time, he was a tireless proponent for innovation and a staunch defender of science-based regulatory systems. His honesty, sincerity, knowledge and passion in speaking for the value of plant science technologies, and the agriculture industry, has been widely recognized by government officials, politicians, regulators, academics and, importantly, farmers.
His experience and leadership attributes led to him being named chair of Genome Canada, a founding board member and subsequently chair of the Global Institute for Food Security. His recognition of the benefits for mankind from the application of biosciences, genomics and other emerging technologies made him a leading spokesperson and supporter of science and technology in agriculture and the agri-food industry.
While now retired, he continues to serve on various boards and committees, including with Genome Canada. Dr. Hepworth noted that this organization is involved with research into COVID-19, such as looking at the DNA of the virus and why some people are more susceptible to the virus while others aren’t.
His son still owns the home quarter of land that was homesteaded in 1907, as the fifth generation to be on that parcel, and it’s currently being farmed by his nephew.
“I offer my sincere congratulations to the newest recipients of Saskatchewan’s highest honour,” Mirasty said. “The Saskatchewan Order of Merit enables us to celebrate the remarkable individuals, such as this year’s honourees, whose excellence, generosity, and vision have benefited so many people in our province.”
The other 2020 recipients are Dr. Gordon Asmundson, Regina; Rigmor Clarke, Shell Lake; Sally Elliott, Regina; Gerald Grandey, Saskatoon; Dr. Donald Greve, Rosthern; Pamela Klein, Regina; Silvia Martini, Saskatoon; Eloise Sitter, Saskatoon, and Dr. Walter Streelasky, Melville.
This year’s recipients of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit will join the 241 individuals who have previously been invested.
The Saskatchewan Order of Merit was established in 1985 to recognize excellence and achievement from outstanding Saskatchewan citizens. They have made significant contributions in areas such as the arts, agriculture, business and industry, community leadership, public service, research and volunteer service.
The Saskatchewan Order of Merit is recognized in the Canadian Honours System. The Lieutenant Governor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf4g4kgNk9E&feature=youtu.be) and Premier Moe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLsJJBW7VIc) have posted videos online congratulating the recipients of this honour.
For more information about the Saskatchewan Order of Merit or to nominate someone, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/honoursawards.