Ellen Gabriel, former president of the Quebec Native Women association, and Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation both rejected the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
The medal is meant to “honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians” for the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. The program is run by the office of Governor General David Johnston.
Gabriel was selected because of her advocacy for Indigenous women and Madahbee selected for his 30 years of involvement in band politics.
In their rejection of the medal, Gabriel and Madahbee cited the current tense political climate between First Nations and the federal government as a major reason for their refusal.
Gabriel said, “This medal in honour of Queen Elizabeth II reminds me of the broken treaties, the violated honour of the Crown and the paternalistic relationship that the federal government continues to impose on our peoples.”
Although she rejected the medal, Gabriel made sure to show her appreciation for Quebec Native Women, the organization that nominated her. “The attention the Quebec Native Women association…is the real recognition of my commitment for the rights of Indigenous women,” said Gabriel.
Madahbee said he wished to “express my respect and gratitude to whomever nominated me but I hope they appreciate that, given the current political challenges being faced by First Nations in Canada, I do not feel it appropriate at this time for me to accept this award.”
He added, “Trinkets are no subsitutes for treaty rights.”