"To be thought of and recognized as distinctly Canadian is just the highest honour," Fox told CTV's Canada AM Friday from Ottawa, before he was invested by Governor General David Johnston.
At a ceremony on Friday, Fox was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, along with 13 others, to recognize his service to Canada or humanity at large. Another 29 became Members of the Order of Canada.
Fox was born in Edmonton and grew up in Chilliwack and Burnaby, B.C. as well as North Bay, Ont. He says he was fed a diet of hockey, listening to Robbie Robertson and Neil Young and reading Farley Mowat and W.O. Mitchell.
"Being Canadian is intrinsic to who I am," Fox said.
B.C.-born actor Michael J. Fox was honoured for his work to fund medical research into Parkinson's disease. He was diagnosed with the disease in the early 1990s. B.C.-born actor Michael J. Fox was honoured for his work to fund medical research into Parkinson's disease which causes tremors and spastic movements.. He was diagnosed with the disease in the early 1990s. After mostly stepping away from acting after his diagnosis, Fox has spent most of the last 10 years raising funds for better Parkinson's treatments.
"Over the last 10 years, we've put about $225 million into Parkinson's research," he said.
His Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is now the largest non-profit funder of Parkinson's research. The Canadian branch of the foundation recently gained charitable status, ensuring that Canadian medical researchers can receive the funding they need to work towards the goal of finding a cure.
Fox is perhaps best known for starring in two television series, Family Ties and Spin City, as well as the Back to the Future movie trilogy. He was described as a "respected and accomplished screen actor," but also "an outspoken advocate" for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The actor went public with news he had Parkinson's in 1998.
"It's a seriousness and a sense of humour. It's a lot of contradictions. It's an intensity and also an enjoyment of life and a recognition of the simple pleasures of life and our importance to each other.
When I think about Canada, I think about vast spaces and tight communities and that, I think, was representated in what we heard today and the people that were represented here. They come from all over the country and all different communities, but they're tightly connected." - Michael J. Fox
After the ceremony, he talked to reporters at Rideau Hall about his work with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The Canadian branch of his foundation recently gained charitable status.
"When we started the foundation we didn't want to be just a symbol of hope but an agent for change," he said.
In total, Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented 29 members and 14 officers with their insignia of membership.
CTV News Staff, CBC contributed to this article.
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