Editorial cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon is among seven Maritimers named to the Order of Canada.

While MacKinnon is celebrating the news, it is bittersweet as his Halifax Chronicle Herald colleagues remain out on the picket lines.

After 30 years in the business, MacKinnon remained humble and self-deprecating as he was named to the Order.

“I’m not sure I belong in this group,” says MacKinnon. “However, I’m thrilled they lowered their standards to bring me into it.”

MacKinnon says though it’s a thrill to be named, it’s also a sad time.

“It’s an extremely tough time for newspapers,” he says. “Every day I wake up and wish it was over. I think every day we don’t have those people working doing their jobs, I think the paper is diminished. There has to be an end at some point.”

On Thursday, there was nothing but joy from colleagues.

“Bruce MacKinnon is in a class of his own,” says striking Herald reporter Mary Ellen MacIntyre. “I think it’s a wonderful thing, well deserved. He’s extremely talented. He has a feisty mind that doesn’t stop.”

The soft-spoken MacKinnon speaks volumes through his work, a single image sometimes capturing what words cannot express.

“I think the cartoon in 2014 on the war memorial probably had something to do with it,” says MacKinnon. “Just because of the number of people it seemed to have touched.”

The image summed up the feelings of a nation over the shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at Canada’s War Memorial in Ottawa. It was shared around the world, and used to raise money for the soldier’s family – who now owns the original work.

“You can have an impact on people, you can make a difference politically and socially,” says MacKinnon.

Bruce MacKinnon looks forward to heading to Ottawa with his family for the Order of Canada ceremony and has two other special places on his list to visit – the National Art Gallery and a stop to pause and remember, at the Canadian War Memorial.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Marie Adsett