Cree defender among 4 Ottawans named to the Order of Canada

A longtime Indigenous rights advocate was one of four Ottawans named to the Order of Canada on Thursday.

Waskaganish Cree First Nation member Bill Namagoose was honored for his « significant contributions to the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and the advancement of Indigenous rights across the country. »

« It’s an honor and recognition for 45 years of public service to the Cree Nation of Northern Quebec, » said the 65-year-old, who has been the chief executive of the Cree Nation Government for 35 years.

Namagoose remembers traveling from northern Quebec to Ottawa in the 1970s to protest injustice and fight for Indigenous rights.

In the 1990s, Namagoose successfully fought the Great Whale River Hydroelectric Project, part of the Quebec government’s decades-long initiative to generate electricity by damming and diverting rivers along the east coast of James Bay.

He also helped negotiate the peace of the brave in 2002, which expanded the autonomy of the Cree Nation in Quebec and forged what their government calls « a new nation-to-nation partnership » around the development of their ancestral lands.

“I went from being a ward of the state to having my work and accomplishments recognized by the state,” said Namagoose, who as a child was forced to attend Horden Hall boarding school in Moose Factory, in Ontario.

« So it’s quite a trajectory. »

The other Ottawans named Thursday to the Order of Canada are:

  • Famous impressionist and voice actor Rich Little.
  • Lawyer and former Chairman of the Radiocommunications Council of Canada (CRTC) Konrad von Finckenstein.
  • Scientist Laurence Gray, for his contributions to the fields of radar technology and polar science.

Thursday’s list also includes comedian Eugene Levy, NHL star Sidney Crosby and soccer goalie Karina LeBlanc.


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