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 honoured for his "significant contributions to the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and to the advancement of Indigenous rights across the country."
"It's an honour and recognition for 45 years of public service to the Cree Nation of northern Quebec," said the 65-year-old, who's been the executive director of the Cree Nation Government for the past 35 years.
Namagoose recalled traveling from northern Quebec to Ottawa in the 1970s to protest injustices 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 power by damming and diverting rivers along the east coast of James Bay.
He also helped negotiate the Paix des Braves agreement in 2002, which expanded the Cree Nation's autonomy in Quebec and forged what their government calls "a new nation-to-nation partnership" around the development of their ancestral lands.
"I've gone from being a ward of the state to having the state recognize my work and accomplishments," said Namagoose, who as a boy was forced to attend the Horden Hall residential school in Moose Factory, Ont.
"So it's quite a trajectory."
The other Ottawans appointed Thursday to the Order of Canada are:
Lawyer and former Canada Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) chair Konrad von Finckenstein.
Scientist Laurence Gray, for his contributions in the fields of radar technology and polar science.
Thursday's list also includes comedian Eugene Levy, NHL star Sidney Crosby and soccer goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.