German Order of Merit for a Canadian Immigrant, Refugee and Global Leader

September 2nd, 2014
Ratna Omidvar and Walter Stechel

Ratna Omidvar and Walter Stechel

Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director of the Global Diversity and Migration Exchange at Ryerson University received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany at a warm reception hosted by the German Consulate on a rainy night, high above Toronto’s sprawling city centre. As Consul General Walter Stechel remarked “Today, Germany and Canada are both countries of immigration. And Germany can learn much from Canada.”

Seamless and Shining

From Consul Stechel’s remarks: 

“You [Ratna] have been to us an important source of knowledge and insight on immigration issues in Canada and Germany, how they compare, what we can learn from each other…. In addition, we appreciate you as a wonderful partner in explaining the Canadian immigrant experience, the strengths and weaknesses of the system. This culminated last Friday in a visit to Kensington Market and a panel discussion at St. Stephen’s Community House with President Joachim Gauck and partner, Daniela Schadt. The President and this delegation considered this panel discussion an absolute highlight of their visit to Canada. After meeting with Ratna and benefiting from her insight, the President emphasized that the award could not be more well deserved.”

“I’m particularly happy, therefore, that the President met with Ratna because her personal history on three continents, Asia, Europe, North America, work in academia and society are impressive and, I would say, seamless and shining.”

The Order of Merit is awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany to draw public attention to achievements that the President believes are of particular value to society. In awarding the Cross of the German Order of Merit, Ratna’s longstanding commitments to civil society, especially in the area of immigrant integration and inclusion, are recognized. Of special significance is the contribution that Ratna’s international work with German foundations, universities and public institutions has made to a new vision of Germany as a country of immigration, and a nation committed to fostering a culture of welcome.

Earlier this week, after a tour of Toronto’s vibrant Kensington Market and a lively discussion forum with local experts and community leaders, German Federal President Joachim Gauck paused to recognize and summarize Ratna’s achievements: “You represent an idea of human progress.”


The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was instituted in 1951 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. It is the only honour that may be awarded in all fields of endeavour and is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation.

The Order of Merit may be awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual realm and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation in the field of social, charitable or philanthropic work. No pecuniary reward is attached.



More Stories - From September 2014

Dishing Up DELI: Diversity in the Economy and Local Integration

Immigrant entrepreneurs have always played a key role in...

Swede visits Toronto for Canadian ideas in integration

He was a like child in a candy shop. For Maroun Aoun, CEO of...

Cities in Competition: Cultural Offer Improves Attractiveness

By Philippe Kern, URBACT Thematic Expert Many European cities are confronted with industrial delocalization,...

Alan Broadbent: We Are All City Builders

Alan Broadbent is the Chairman and Founder of Maytree. This article has been adapted from his...

Mary Rowe: Cities Are About Place

Mary Rowe is Director, Urban Resilience and Livability, at the Municipal Art Society of New York...

Let diversity be part of our collective future

By Mattias Nord, Kenneth Johansson and others More and more companies and organizations are realizing the...

Top Ten Bountiful Ideas for Shared Urban Prosperity

Mary Rowe, Director, Urban Resilience...

Where Local meets Global: Welcome to the Global Diversity and Migration Exchange

Cities of Migration has a new home. The Global Diversity and Migration Exchange is a...
Looking for Past Issues?

More »Upcoming Webinars

    • No events.