Gala: celebrating our GGAwards laureates in 2016

Did you miss the first half? You can find it here.

Red Carpet Action

The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala is the final event of the weekend for our laureates, but it’s also a high point on the local social calendar. Even with the infamous Ottawa sinkhole, plenty of Ottawa fashionistas and national style icons made it to our red carpet. The gala is held at the National Arts Centre, and they are a key part of its success. 

Clockwise from left: Liz Rodbell, Paul Gross, & Suzanne Timmins, Suzanne Boyd, Jessica & Ben Mulroney, Sarah Gadon. Photos: Georges Pimentel
Of course the highlight of our red carpet is the appearance of our guests, laureates and the Governor General. This year, Their Excellencies, the Governor General, David Johnston, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, had to make an extra long trip to the Gala, as they had joined Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday in London. We were very glad they were able to attend both events!

Clockwise from left: Susan Aglukark and her family, John D McKellar, Ben Heppner, Marie Chouinard, Suzanne Lebeau, and Robert Lantos. Photos : Georges Pimentel

Gala Performances

Once our laureates had swept into the gala and up the stairs to the Mezzanine, it was time for the Gala performances to begin. We opened with a rather intriguing video featuring our host, Colm Feore and a cameos by NAC staff. All the laureates were honoured with the premiere screening of their NFB short film, and a tribute performance.  At every turn, the audience rose to salute our laureates – the applause rang out[1]. The final tribute of the evening was a resounding “Happy Birthday” to his Excellency, which included the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Ewashko Singers, and some two thousand cheerful civilian voices.

It’s hard to pick highlights from such a stunning evening, but the audience loved the musical tribute to Susan Aglukark, featuring Leela Gilday, Elisapie Isaac, and Tom Jackson. They chuckled at Paul Gross and Cynthia Dale’s remarks to Robert Lantos. They were moved by the tribute to Suzanne Lebeau, an extract from Le Bruit des Os Qui Craquent. They were astounded by the performance by Cie Marie Chouinard, excerpted from Henri Michaux: Portraits. They smiled at Don McKellar’s tribute to his father, John D McKellar.  The whole of Southam Hall was delighted by Ben Heppner’s “surprise”, Shelagh Rogers, and by the choral tribute to him.

After the performances, guests mingled at the NAC, dancing to vintage disco and soul numbers. Laureates and guests eventually slipped away into the foggy night. (Insert Photo). We can’t wait until next year!


Our sincerest thanks to presenting sponsor Enbridge for their support and generosity. Many thanks as well to the National Arts Centre, who produce and host the gala every year. We must also thank the Canada Council for the Arts, who fund our prizes for our laureates. Finally, our gratitude goes to the NFB, whose teams manage, each year, to condense a life’s work into a short film for each laureate.


[1] If you’ve never heard 2000 seat backs thump at once, you haven’t heard a proper standing O – ed. 


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