January 7, 2022
Dr. Donald McKenzie, OC, MSM is appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada
One of Canada’s highest civilian honours
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. More than 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order. Those who bear the Order’s iconic snowflake insignia have changed our nation’s measure of success and, through the sum of their accomplishments, have helped us build a better Canada.
– The Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon
Dr. Donald (Don) McKenzie, OC, MSM, MPE ’72 (UBC), MD ’77 (UBC), Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education, cross-appointed in both the School of Kinesiology and the Faculty of Medicine, is appointed to the Order of Canada as an Officer (OC), an honour bestowed in recognition of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially service to Canada or to humanity at large.
Service to sports medicine and breast cancer survivors
Don has made considerable contributions to exercise and sports medicine, and his work with breast cancer survivors has had the most observable impact on our society.
In 1979, Don co-founded the UBC Sports Medicine Clinic (renamed the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre in 1988), the first clinic of its kind in Canada to pioneer the multi-disciplinary treatment of sports injuries.
In 1995, Don pursued a research question within his clinical research program that challenged the prevailing view at the time that engaging in physical activity would result in lymphedema for breast cancer survivors. His study began with 24 breast cancer survivors (the original members of Abreast In A Boat), whom he enrolled in a 6-month dragon boat paddling program. The results of this study indicated that physical exercise actually proved to be highly beneficial for these women, with none developing lymphedema.
Today, engaging in regular physical activity is considered a ‘standard of care’ for cancer survivors and Don’s work, along with collaborators, helped demonstrate that engaging in regular physical activity is associated with a 35% reduction in mortality among cancer survivors.
Further, what began as a small research project in Vancouver morphed over time into a global movement, with the Abreast In A Boat outreach program and the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (which now operates in over 24 countries) helping thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
With over 200 peer-reviewed publications in top-tier journals, 17 book chapters, several prestigious awards, and multiple contributions to the media, Don continues to conduct innovative work with real world impact; the next step in his research program will examine genomic and proteomic changes derived from physical activity in breast cancer survivors (the interaction between tumour biology and exercise oncology).
Through his selfless service and desire to help, support, and guide others, Don embodies the spirit of the Order of Canada. His discoveries regarding the beneficial impacts of exercise on the wellbeing of breast cancer survivors, his drive to help breast cancer survivors in Canada and internationally improve their own physical and mental health through dragon boat paddling, and his unfailing support of Canada’s top athletes and the organizations that represent them, are a collective testament to his selfless devotion to improving the lives of others.
To learn more about the impact of Don’s work, read Breast Cancer and Dragon Boat Racing: The Story Behind a Movement.
To view all UBC faculty member appointments to the Order of Canada, read the UBC Research and Innovation announcement.
To view all 135 new appointments to the Order of Canada, read the Governor General of Canada’s announcement.