Saturday, December 29, 2007

Order of Canada for Bell 

Posted by James at 1:43 PM ET

Kerry Benjoe
The Regina Leader-Post

Carol Gay Bell, the newest member of the Order of Canada, credits her mother for helping her become the woman she is today.

"(My mother) would tell me if I worked hard I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be," said Bell. "I think that she was very, very instrumental in everything that happened in my life.

On Friday, 61 new appointments to the Order of Canada were announced. Bell, the founder of Saskatchewan Express, was the only Saskatchewan resident named. She was recognized for her contributions as an artistic director who has been instrumental in promoting and developing Saskatchewan's young actors, singers and dancers.

Carol Gay Bell

"To receive the Order of Canada, the highest honour in the land is truly overwhelming," said Bell.

Bell was born and raised in Regina. Although her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Manitoba and a degree in Television and Radio from Ryerson University in Toronto, she says, she has always had a passion for the performing arts.

"From the time I was three I started dancing. I was in the Lions Band and I was a baton twirler," Bell explained, adding they were activities she kept up with through high school and university.

Bell spent a number of years in the media and recalled how difficult it was in those early years for women.

"There weren't many women in the media at that point and every accomplishment was a major accomplishment in that era," said Bell. "Women weren't accepted in broadcasting as they are now. Women have every opportunity now and in those days it was still a man's world."

She didn't let anything stand in her way and did not shy away from a challenge. Bell was the first Saskatchewan producer of a musical variety show for CBC television and was also the first female jazz disc jockey in Canada.

"This province has offered me many opportunities and I've had a great time living in this province, because I've had the chance to do so many different things," said Bell. "There's no bigger supporter or cheerleader of this province than me."

In 1961 she also founded the Saskatchewan Roughrider cheerleaders, which she directed for 17 years. Bell has worked as a director, producer, and actress on many stage productions and for special events. However, Bell is most proud of the work she has done with Saskatchewan youth.

"There's so much satisfaction in working with young people and watching them achieve and grow. I've been very lucky," said Bell. "We try to teach them to be better people, to respect themselves and to respect others and to always do their best and never give up."

Bell is no stranger to awards, having also received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and the YWCA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

She says her secret to success is having a wonderful family. Her husband and son have always been there to offer her support when she needed it.

"I'm grateful there are young people in my life. They keep you young," said Bell. "There are people I work with who keep me young and my grandchildren who keep me constantly amazed and surprised."

Despite her many achievements, Bell has no plans on slowing down in the future and pledges to continue working for as long as possible.

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