Vaughn Wyant honoured to receive Order of Canada

Western Canada auto dealer Vaughn Wyant is overcome with emotion at his appointment to the Order of Canada, in particular because it’s an honour his late father received.

The Order of Canada, created in 1967, is one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, recognizing outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. To date, more than 7,000 people from all sectors of Canada have been invested into the Order.

Sixty-nine year old Wyantwas bestowed the honour on December 29th along with 134 other individuals. He was recognized for his contributions as a business leader in the auto industry in western Canada and for his community philanthropy.

Wyant, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Wyant Group, which owns almost 20 dealerships representing 12 brands across Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., told Canadian auto dealer he does not know exactly who nominated him for the Order of Canada, though he’s been told it was someone within the automotive industry from Winnipeg and that the nomination included several letters of support.

“It was a complete surprise to me, pretty cool, for sure,” he said.

All of the new members to the order will be presented with the insignia at investiture ceremonies in Ottawa by Governor General Mary Simon.

Wyant’s late father, Gordon, a native of Germany who came to Canada in 1954, was invested into the Order in 1991 in recognition of his distinguished career as a physician, researcher and educator.

“It’s kind of special for me a little bit because I don’t know if you follow in the footsteps of your parents, but he was a pretty great guy and a country builder, too, because he came to Canada to become the founding professor of anesthesia at the newly-opened University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon,” Wyant said.

As for his own contributions, Wyant said: “You don’t do things because you expect to be awarded anything. You do them because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve always had a saying that ‘you should leave a place a little better than you found it,’ which I’m sure [is] what my dad and mom did. That’s the business philosophy and the moral philosophy I had in moving back to Saskatoon.”

Wyant moved there in 1983 after buying his first dealership in Carstairs, Alberta, a small town 48 kilometres north of Calgary. He returned to Saskatoon to be close to his mother, who was in poor health.

“We’ve been fortunate and successful (as a business) and have been supported by our community and, in turn, we felt the need to make sure we support our community back,” he said. “I guess somebody finally said, ‘They’ve done enough and should be recognized.’ That is completely a matter of someone else’s opinion, not mine.”

Wyant has also been President of the Saskatchewan Motor Dealers Association, was on the board of the MDA Co-Auto, and has held positions in various dealer council boards.

“I’ve been involved in a high level in the industry for a long, long period of time,” he said. “I’ve never shied away from trying to put my expertise or my name on the things I’ve done.”

He has also been involved in various Saskatoon-related charities, including giving $500,000 to the University of Saskatchewan’s new rink project, donating $1 million to the Remai Modern Art Gallery, and working with a team of individuals that included Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed who helped raise $500,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.

Wyant is currently involved in a charity called the Stars Pegasus Project, which is led by the Western Canadian Motor Dealers Association, to raise money for STARS air ambulance in Saskatoon. The air rescue service was involved in the Humboldt bus crash in April, 2018, in which 16 people were killed and 13 injured, almost all of them associated with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Almost $3 million has been raised so far.

“It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I think the (award) is for all of the things you do. I don’t know if they are specific or not. I think it’s just got to do with building a business from a very small place, supporting your employees. I have a hard time really knowing (for sure).”

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