October 3, 2002:
This award, established in Canada's Centennial Year, 1967, recognizes outstanding achievement and service.
Ross is well known for her paintings, etchings, and prints of First Nations people.
In the 1960s, she was encouraged by Norval Morrisseau to paint the residents and scenes of our part of the world.
She also ventured to the Far North and showed the rest of the country images of the strong Inuit people.
Many pieces of her work grace the halls at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
Having already painted for many years, Ross became interested in people in relationship to the land.
When she met Emily, an Ojibway woman, she was introduced to a culture that intrigued her.
She began to understand the culture by learning some of the language.
Then she became fascinated by the Native wild-rice harvesters at Whitefish Lake.
After meeting Norval Morrisseau, she ventured north to reserve communities to learn more about Native culture and to sketch the people.
Morrisseau encouraged her to sketch scenes from daily life at Gull Bay.
Ross and Morrisseau respected each other as artists and maintained a friendship for several years.
In her travels, Ross visited and documented images from Big Trout Lake, Sandy Lake, north of the Arctic Circle, and more.
The 1960s and '70s were a difficult time for Aboriginal people of Northwestern Ontario and the Far North.
Ross's images often show stress in the faces of those she sketched and the hard work they endured in their daily lives.
But pleasure also shows through in some of her images, such as "Saulteaux Drum Dance" and "Inuit Girls."
The faces are always intelligent and questioning.
In her comments while issuing the Order of Canada, Gov. Gen. Clarkson noted that Ross has served as a mentor, a source of encouragement, and a source of financial assistance to numerous artists.
As well as Morrisseau, Ross was also influential in the careers of Carl Ray and Daphne Odjig, whose first public exhibition was mounted by Ross in 1967.
Now 87 years old, Ross no longer paints.
"I lost the urge to do it in the last couple of years," she said.