A longtime advocate for Indigenous rights was one of four Ottawans appointed to the Order of Canada on Thursday.
Bill Namagoose, a member of the Waskaganish Cree First Nation, was honored for his “significant contributions to the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and to the advancement of indigenous rights across the country.”
“It is an honor and recognition of 45 years of public service to the Cree Nation of northern Quebec,” said the 65-year-old, who has served as Executive Director of the Cree Nation’s government for the past 35 years.
It was an honor to be awarded the Order of Canada this morning. I accept this #OrderOfCanada and thanks to all the amazing people I’ve worked with over the years. I thank my hometown #Waskagan First Nation and the Cree Nation of Northern Quebec for their trust in me. pic.twitter.com/XcS3eUxdB6
Namagoose recalled traveling from northern Quebec to Ottawa in the 1970s to protest injustice and fight for indigenous rights.
In the 1990s, Namagoose successfully campaigned against the Great Whale River Hydroelectric Project, part of the Quebec government’s decade-long initiative to generate electricity by damming and diverting rivers along the east coast of James Bay.
He also helped negotiate the Paix des Braves Accords in 2002, which expanded the Cree Nation’s autonomy in Quebec and forged what her government is calling “a new nation-to-nation partnership” around the development of their ancestral lands.
“I went from being a ward of the state to having the state recognize my work and achievements,” said Namagoose, who as a boy was forced to attend Horden Hall Residential School in Moose Factory, Ontario.
“So it’s quite a trajectory.”
The other Ottawans nominated to the Order of Canada Thursday are:
- Famed impressionist and voice actor Rich Little.
- Attorney and former Chairman of the Canada Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Konrad von Finckenstein.
- Scientist Laurence Gray for his contributions to radar technology and polar research.
Also on Thursday’s list are comedian Eugene Levy, NHL star Sidney Crosby and soccer goaltender Karina LeBlanc.