U of M professor appointed to Order of Canada

Distinguished professor and palliative care researcher Harvey Max Chochinov receives Canada’s top honour

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A new feather was added to the cap of University of Manitoba professor and international palliative care leader Harvey Max Chochinov after he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada last month.

Chochinov, who earned both his undergraduate degree and PhD from the U of M, was officially appointed to the Order of Canada in a ceremony at Rideau Hall Nov. 18, where he was honoured alongside more than 45 other Canadians.

A distinguished professor of psychiatry at the U of M and director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit at CancerCare Manitoba, Chochinov has made great strides in research on palliative care. He holds the only Canada Research Chair in palliative care, is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of Manitoba, all in recognition of his medical research.

Chochinov was recognized as one of U of M’s brightest scholars in 2009 when he was awarded university’s highest research honour, the Dr. John M. Bowman Rh Institute Foundation Award. For more than two decades, he has focused his on diverse psychiatric spheres of palliative medicine, including depression, desire for death, the will to live, and dignity at the end of life.

The multiple award-winning researcher told the Manitoban about his feelings with respect to his induction, which he described as a humbling experience.

“I felt most honoured and deeply humbled,” he said. “Certainly, attending the ceremony was a moving experience and being included amongst a group of extraordinary Canadians who were inducted at the time was a quite profound and deeply humbling experience.”

He highlighted some traits he said carried him through his journey to recognized research excellence – passion, commitment, team work, and a sincere care for patients and families who are in the midst of life-threatening illnesses.

“I care about my work, my field, passionately,” he said. “Doing good research in end of life care is perhaps the best way of trying to make sure we understand the experience of people towards end of life.”
“It is only by having a deep understanding of these issues that one would be able to have better ways of approaching people to enhance their quality of life as they are approaching their final day, weeks and months of life.”

He noted his accolades are the fruits of strong, collaborative relationships across research disciplines, saying “I feel it is very important to have multidisciplinary teams and teams that work well together and respectfully with one another in order to take this work forward.”

He offered the Manitoban encouraging words and advice to young researchers in the university community.

“Care about what you are doing,” he said. “Choose an area of research that is intellectually stimulating and is going to capture your attention for a long period of time. Be reflective and thoughtful about your work, never sacrifice excellence – these are all important attributes for people who are going to be successful researchers.”