In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her reign, the Governor General of Canada awarded 60 inaugural medals, several of them to aboriginals or people working on indigenous issues.
Foremost among the aboriginal winners was Métis National Council President Clement Chartier, who won "for his leadership as president of the Metis National Council, and for advocating for Métis and indigenous rights," according to the website of the Governor General, David Johnston.
Roberta L. Jamieson, of Ohsweken, Ontario, won “for her leadership as president of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and for her expertise in non-adversarial methods of conflict resolution,” the Governor General’s office said.
Constable Anne O'Shaughnessy, of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, won “for her dedication to the health, safety and physical well-being of the aboriginal youth of Prince Edward Island.”
William Matthew Raistlen Jones of Whitehorse, Yukon, in the Northwest Territories, won “for his leadership as an aboriginal role model and for his dedication to the arts,” the site said. And Johnny Issaluk of Iqaluit, Nunavut, won "for his contributions towards improving the health and community well-being among Nunavutmiut."
The 60 inaugural medals went to “Canadians who have devoted themselves to the well-being of family, community and country,” the Jubilee site said.
It was on February 6, 1952, that Queen Elizabeth II inherited her place on the throne of England upon the death of her father, King George VI. This is the first Diamond Jubilee since Queen Victoria’s in 1897 and only the second in the history of England, Johnston said in a statement announcing the awards. The year-long celebration will see the awarding of a total of 60,000 medals to Canadians, the Governor General’s office said.
"Today, we once again affirm our bond with the Crown, which helps us to define our country and what it means to be Canadian," Johnston in his speech at the presentation ceremony at Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s base.
“The recipients who are honored by this medal have made Canada better,” Johnston said. “Individually, they have improved the well-being of many in our communities, and together, they have helped to create a smarter, more caring nation. They represent a mosaic of individual experiences and accomplishments. Like Her Majesty, they inspire others to take up the call to service.”
Aboriginals have a special relationship with the Crown. Most of the treaties and other agreements that are still being negotiated to this day pre-date the formation of Canada and are thus directly between them and the British monarchy rather than the present-day federal government. The recent Crown–First Nations Gathering was so named because of this relationship, which was also reaffirmed by the visit last summer of Prince William and his bride, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, on their first trip abroad as a married couple.
“Over the past 60 years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has served our country with distinction and dedication and continues to show Canada her generosity and affection,” Harper said at the ceremony. “These medals honour those Canadians who follow the fine tradition of service so exemplified by Her Majesty.”
Meanwhile, back in England, Queen Elizabeth attended church on her country estate in a subdued commemoration of the anniversary of her father's death, as is her custom, The New York Times noted. The party will be held in June, to celebrate the anniversary of her coronation.