Governor General's Performing Arts Awards

Canadian stars Michael J. Fox, 55, and Martin Short, 66, were announced this morning as headlining the 2017 class of Governor General's Performing Arts Awards recipients. Founded in 1992 the GGPA's honour artists and arts volunteers from coast to coast to coast and stand among the most notable national recognition for the arts community in Canada.

In announcing the awards the GGPA's calls Fox "a respected and accomplished screen actor," recalling his work on the sitcoms Family Ties and Spin City and on the big screen in the Back to the Future trilogy while also noting his inspiring, award-winning activism for research into Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1991 and for which he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Short, meanwhile, a star of SCTV, Saturday Night Live and countless films, is celebrated as an "acclaimed stage and screen actor known for his wacky comedic characters and dead-on impressions … In a career spanning over 40 years, he has delighted audiences across North America and beyond, and made laughter an important Canadian export."

They join four more 2017 honourees:

* Brigitte Hæntjens, 65: Award-winning French-born Canadian theatre director and pioneer, "known for her dazzlingly original, avant-garde productions and her thoughtful and poetic approach to contemporary theatre practice … Her remarkable achievements as a stage director stand alongside her outstanding work as a leader of major arts institutions. She is an iconic figure in the theatre community, and her contribution to Canada's cultural profile is immense."

* Yves Sioui Durand, 65: Founder of the first Quebecois Aboriginal theatre company, writer, director and trailblazer who, "has become known for his transcultural exploration of the contemporary Aboriginal experience through richly allegorical mythology … His artistic creativity updates an age-old cultural legacy for a contemporary audience while respecting ancestral codes, and as an artist, he believes passionately in the reconstruction of Aboriginal cultures through art."

* Jean Beaudin, 78: Celebrated Quebecois film and television writer/director who "has delighted film and television audiences throughout his career … From his early days at the National Film Board to his monumentally successful historical film dramas and TV series, his work stands out for its authenticity, simplicity and visual beauty, and has been instrumental in transmitting our cultural heritage and shaping a distinctive voice in Quebec and Canadian cinema."

* William H. Loewen, 87: Manitoba-based philanthropist and volunteer, the 2017 recipient of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts, who "has provided leadership, direction and financial support to the performing arts for over three decades. A passionate music lover, he has a close association with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, to which he and his wife Shirley have donated over a million dollars through the W.H. & S.E. Loewen Foundation."

A statement this morning by the CEO and director of the Canada Council for the Arts, Simon Brault, called the 2017 laureates, "among the world's finest and best-loved performing artists. As Canadians, we are extremely proud of them and share in their success as they reflect Canada's boundless creative spirit and its enduring impact on audiences around the world."

A gala for the honourees will take place in June. Click here for more about the GGPA's.

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