By: Karen-Luz Sison
Norman Hillmer, a Carleton history professor, was named to the Order of Canada, a national civilian award, on Dec. 30.
The order is one of the highest national honours given to civilians, and it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. Hillmer was one of 100 Canadians appointed to the order at the end of 2016.
The award is given to Canadians who have been high achievers in their professional fields or have shown dedication and service to their community and country. This year’s recipients will receive their insignia at a ceremony later this year.
Hillmer was appointed a member because of his “contributions to the study of Canada’s foreign policy and international relations in the 20th century,” according to a press release from the Governor General’s office.
Hillmer said he was surprised to have received the award.
“I had no idea that it would have quite this impact on my life and on my friends, all of whom share in this because I am what I am because of them,” he said.
“It’s an honour that a member of our department is getting recognized by our country that way,” Dominique Marshall, chair of Carleton’s history department, said. “We’re delighted that his work is being acknowledged. It’s important for him and for all of us.”
Marshall said that Hillmer’s work shows he is a “well-rounded and important scholar.”
“His discoveries are important [and] his readership is broad,” she said. “As an older colleague, he was very helpful for my own scholarship . . . He was invaluable.”
“I am a historian. Have been, always have been, always will be,” Hillmer said.
An author and editor of over 20 books on Canadian history and politics, Hillmer said he is interested in how Canadians have defined national identity in relation to other countries.
“It’s fun to learn about your country,” he said. “It’s fun to learn that the history of our country is not dull and uninteresting; it’s the very opposite.”
Hillmer came to Carleton in 1990 after an 18-year-long career as a historian in the Department of National Defence. He said it wasn’t easy for him to leave his job in the department, but he thought it would be good to have a career change.
“And that turned out to be a very good thing as well, because I’ve loved Carleton,” he said.
Hillmer said he likes to think the award recognizes not just his written work but his teaching as well.
“My teaching is what is most important to me,” he said.
According to Hillmer, teaching means communication.
“It’s not standing behind the lectern and reading your notes,” he said. “It’s standing as close to students as you can get and talking to [students].”
Marshall said Hillmer “gladly and enthusiastically teaches at all levels.”
“There is a world out there, and it’s important to know about it and it’s worth it to know about it,” Hillmer said.