Karina LeBlanc was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honours. LeBlanc was recognised for her contributions to the sport of soccer worldwide as well as for her use of soccer as a tool for social change. LeBlanc was one of 99 new appointments announced on 29 December 2022 by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.
“On behalf of the entire Canadian soccer community, we congratulate Karina LeBlanc on her appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada,” said Dr. Nick Bontis, Canada Soccer President. “From her playing career as a record-breaking goalkeeper to her incredible influence off the pitch in both sport and society, Karina is an incredible ambassador for our nation.”
The Order of Canada recognises people across all sectors of society who have made extraordinary and sustained contributions to Canada. Since 1967, the Order of Canada has honoured more than 7,600 people ‘whose service has shaped our society, whose innovations have ignited our imaginations, and whose compassion has united our communities.’ LeBlanc’s investiture ceremony will take place at a later date.
“What a beautiful way to end the year, honouring Order of Canada appointees and learning about the depth and range of their accomplishments,” wrote Simon. “Celebrated trailblazers in their respective fields, they are inspiring, educating and mentoring future generations, creating a foundation of excellence in our country that is respected throughout the world. Their commitment to the betterment of Canada fills me with pride and hope for the future. Alianaigusuqatigiivassi. Congratulations.”
LeBlanc, an honoured member of the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame, was a two-time Concacaf champion and Olympic Games Bronze Medal winner from her international career as a goalkeeper. She was the first player to represent Canada at five FIFA World Cups from 1999 to 2015, including a fourth-place finish at USA 2003. She played her club football in Canada and USA, won league titles in Boston and Los Angeles, and playoff titles in New Jersey and Portland.
LeBlanc is currently the General Manager at Portland Thorns FC, most recently leading her club to the 2022 NWSL Championship. Before joining the Thorns, she served as Head of Concacaf Women’s Football from 2018 to 2021. She has also served as an ambassador for UNICEF Canada.
LeBlanc is just the second Canadian international footballer appointed to the Order of Canada after her former teammate Christine Sinclair, who was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. Before LeBlanc and Sinclair, other Canadians appointed for their contributions in soccer and sport were Dr. Andrew Pipe as well as the late Sam Donaghey, Steve Stavro and Fred Tessier. Other Canadian soccer people appointed to the Order of Canada include Charmaine Crooks (athletics), Frank Iacobucci (education, law, jurisprudence), Doug Knott (agriculture), Basil Robinson (foreign affairs), and Stan Stronge (disabled sports).