People & Culture

Canadian Geographic photographer-in-residence Michelle Valberg appointed to Order of Canada

Valberg was recognized for her photography and philanthropy raising awareness of Canada’s North

  • Jun 30, 2022
  • 345 words
  • 2 minutes
Michelle Valberg. (Photo: Lindsey Gibeau)
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Photographer Michelle Valberg was already in Norway for her next assignment when it was announced that she’d received one of Canada’s top honours.

On June 29, 2022, the Canadian Geographic photographer-in-residence was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions both as a photographer and philanthropist, as well as for her work raising awareness of the beauty and fragility of Canada’s North.

For more than 35 years, Valberg, who is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, has been telling stories with her camera. Though she travels around the world, she has focused, in particular, on the wildlife and landscapes of the Canadian Arctic. 

Her work has appeared on magazine covers, in numerous exhibitions and embassies worldwide, and has been showcased in a solo exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Her iconic image of Inuit drum dancer Mathew Nuqingaq is on a coin produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, while a number of her wildlife images have appeared on Canadian stamps.

Just last year, Valberg bested more than 3,000 entries from around the world to win the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers. The competition judges lauded Valberg as “a rare combination of dazzling talent and dedicated service.”

Narwhal at the floe edge near Arctic Bay, Nunavut. (Photo: Michelle Valberg)
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A highly esteemed and engaged member of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Valberg was honoured with the Society’s Louie Kamookak Medal in 2019. 

Though each of her pictures tells a thousand words, Valberg’s work extends beyond photography and into philanthropy. She founded Project North in 2009 to deliver education and sport-based opportunities to youth in the Canadian Arctic. This project has raised more than a million dollars for sports equipment, which has been distributed to more than 30 northern communities.

The Order of Canada was created in 1967 to honour individuals whose service shapes our society, whose innovations ignite our imaginations and whose compassion unites our communities. Other honourees announced on June 29 include sprinter Donovan Bailey, actor Sandra Oh, former Nunavut Member of Parliament Nancy Uqquujuq Karetak-Lindell, and Canadian music industry trailblazer Alexander Mair. 

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