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Northerners celebrated at ceremony
Governor General honours 12 people with Diamond Jubilee medals

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 10, 2012

In celebration of Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne, 12 Northerners were awarded Diamond Jubilee medals during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the legislative assembly.

NNSL photo/graphic

Former NWT Commissioner Tony Whitford, pictured here with his friend Jean Gagnon, shows off his Diamond Jubilee medal during the Diamond Jubilee award ceremony at the Legislative Assembly Tuesday afternoon. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL photo

NWT Diamond jubilee recipients
  • Bob McLeod
  • Tony Whitford
  • Bobby Drygeese
  • Patricia O'Connor
  • Georges Henry Erasmus
  • Sharon Firth
  • Shirley Firth-Larrson
  • Arlene Hache
  • Bishop John R. Sperry
  • Esther Braden
  • Barbara Bromley
  • Gail Cyr

The medals recognize Canadians for their contributions to their community and Canada at large.

Most of the recipients received the medals in recognition of their membership in the Order of Canada, while Bob McLeod received his medal for being premier of the NWT.

Former NWT commissioner Tony Whitford, Dene educator Bobby Drygeese of Dettah, and Gail Cyr of St. John Ambulance in Yellowknife received the medals after being nominated by members of the community.

Drygeese and Whitford attended the Yellowknife ceremony on Tuesday.

Gail Cyr had her decades of work acknowledged when Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented her with her medal during a ceremony in Ottawa Monday.

"They are very, very worthy recipients and I think the reflection that they were all considered for the Order of Canada and the other two were nominated by the people of the Northwest Territories I think reflects on their years of community service and standing in the community," McLeod said during the Yellowknife event.

Whitford said he had just arrived back in Yellowknife after a vacation in Hawaii when he received the call from the NWT commissioner's office informing him that he would be receiving the award.

"I'm honoured, I am. I thank the people who nominated me for this and I accept it on behalf of the community I serve. It's because of them that I am able to receive something like this," said Whitford. "So on their behalf I am accepting it and will be wearing it proudly."

He said there are many others he feels are deserving of the honour.

"Do I deserve it? Well, I'm sure that there are people who have worked harder than me and I know that they would be equally honoured to have it. But I guess somebody's got to have it, so they nominated me and I'm so happy they did and honoured they did," said Whitford.

Whitford, an honourary captain in Canada's Navy, said he is going to make a miniature copy of the award and wear it proudly on his uniform.

Drygeese, a drummer and owner of B. Dene Adventures, said he isn't sure what he is going to do with his award, but he said he has a few ideas.

"I'm going to hang it up and display it or something," said Drygeese.

He said he only found out about the award Tuesday morning.

"They told me that it's for organizing the kids for the royal visit and (organizing) all the drummers and all that, bringing them over for recognition, that's what they told me this morning. And yeah, it's pretty good," said Drygeese. "I just went 'wow!'"

He said it feels good to be recognized for the work he does in his community, which includes helping keep Dene culture alive through B. Dene Adventures, which offers culture camps for students. Drygeese also leads demonstrations and workshops to introduce Dene skills and traditions to students in the schools.

In total, 60,000 Canadians will receive Diamond Jubilee medals. More recipients will be announced throughout the year as nominations continue to come in.

Source: The office of the Governor General of Canada

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