Not too many recipients of the Order of Canada would say they felt sadness when notified that they were being awarded the honour.
Elder Harry Bone from Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba, was one of 125 new appointees announced last week.
His wife died three years ago, and her memory was the first thing he thought of when he found out he had been named for the honour.
"She was very much a part of the things that I do now," he said.
"She encouraged me to continue on."
The official release from Rideau Hall said Bone will become a member of the Order of Canada "for his contributions to advancing Indigenous education and preserving traditional laws, and for creating bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities."
Bone has spent his life working in administration and education and is currently a member of the Council of Elders of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, as well as co-author of Untuwe Pi Kin He – Who We are: Treaty Elders' Teachings.
Although feelings of grief were his initial reaction, he said receiving the Order of Canada also brings a tremendous sense of pride and honour.
"It's important for me because it represents the issues that we deal with... It recognizes the work that we do to advance the cause of our people," said Bone.
He said the honour also recognizes the work of the elders from whom he has learned.
The Order of Canada was established in 1967, and is awarded to people who have made significant contributions — in any field — to Canadian society.
More than two dozen other Indigenous people were among the appointees announced last week, including writer Lee Maracle, historian Louie Kamookak, and Robert Joseph, ambassador of Reconciliation Canada.
The recipients will receive their insignia at a ceremony at a later date.
Appointed as Officers of the Order of Canada
Robert Joseph - Alert Bay, B.C.
For his distinguished pan-Canadian leadership as a voice for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Louie Kamookak - Gjoa Haven, Nunavut
For his relentless dedication to collecting and showcasing the stories of the Inuit of Nunavut.
Lee Maracle -Toronto
For her contributions to Canada's literary landscape and for her influential voice in cultural relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Appointed as Members of the Order of Canada
Harry Bone - Winnipeg
For his contributions to advancing Indigenous education and preserving traditional laws, and for creating bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities.
Abel Bosum - Oujé-Bougoumou, Que.
For his sustained leadership of and dedication to the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation and the development of the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James territory.
David Crate - Fisher River Cree Nation, Man.
For creating ecologically responsible economic development opportunities for his community and for improving access to education and technology in Manitoba's Indigenous communities.
Marie Yvonne Delorme - Calgary
For her entrepreneurial leadership and for her commitment to promoting opportunities for women and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
James Eetoolook - Taloyoak, Nunavut
For his contributions as an advocate for Inuit rights, notably in protecting and fostering culture and heritage.
Minnie Grey - Kuujjuaq, Que.
For her leadership in protecting and promoting the Inuit way of life, and for bolstering health policy initiatives within Indigenous communities.
Jeanette Corbiere Lavell - Wikwemikong, Ont.
For her leadership in advocating for Indigenous women's rights throughout Canada, notably for advancing gender equality under the law.
Catherine Anne Martin - Blind Bay, N.S.
For her award-winning documentaries and for her commitment to promoting education among the members of the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Innu and Inuit communities, particularly women and youth.
Michel Noël - Saint-Damien, Que.
For his promotion of Indigenous culture as a writer and government official, and for his work to improve cultural exchange in Canada.
Marcelline Picard - Pessamit, Que.
For promoting Indigenous education as a teacher and administrator, and for inspiring women throughout Indigenous communities in Quebec.
Andrew Qappik - Pangnirtung, Nunavut
For his contributions to defining the visual culture of Nunavut as a master printmaker and sculptor.
Frederick Sasakamoose - Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Sask.
For his trailblazing contributions as the first Indigenous player in the NHL and for his work in seeking the betterment of his community through sports.
Judith Sayers - Port Alberni, B.C.
For her contributions to advancing clean energy projects in her community and for her role as a champion of sustainable development in Indigenous communities.
Calvin A. White - Flat Bay, N.L.
For his vital role in the preservation and revival of Indigenous culture in Newfoundland and Labrador and for his sustained leadership and mentorship within the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation.
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