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Grand council chief declines Queen’s Jubilee medal

Thursday January 24, 2013

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee has declined the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal over the Governor General’s refusal to discuss the broken treaty relationship with First Nation leaders.

“Trinkets are no substitute for treaty rights,” Madahbee said, stressing that being chosen to speak on behalf of the 39 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation was the highest honour he has received.

“The treaty relationship promised in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 has been broken by the current federal government,” Madahbee said. “The Covenant Chain we accepted at Niagara in 1764 has been badly tarnished. Canada’s rule of law, as expressed in its Constitution and by its Supreme Court, is being ignored. The prime minister has an obligation to have the Queen’s representative involved in any discussions we have with his government about Canada’s obligations to honour the treaties.”

Madahbee was notified that he had been nominated to receive the medal – which honours outstanding contributions to Canada in recognition of Queen Elizabeth II’s sixty years of service to the British Commonwealth – at a Jan. 24 ceremony in Toronto.

“I want to express my respect and gratitude to whomever nominated me,” Madahbee said. “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.”

The Queen’s Jubilee medal program is administered through the office of Governor General David Johnston, the Queen’s representative in Canada, who refused earlier this month to participate in “policy meetings” with First Nations leaders in Ottawa.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11, 2012 over demands to meet with both the prime minister and the governor general to discuss treaty issues between First Nations and the Crown. While the prime minister agreed to meet with First Nation leaders on Jan. 11, the governor general would only agree to a ceremony at Rideau Hall after the prime minister’s meeting.

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