A First Nations elder and a former Saskatchewan treaty commissioner are among 10 people that will receive the province’s highest honour tonight.
The order of merit is awarded to people who have made an outstanding social, cultural, and economic contribution to the province.
George Lafond and Isabelle Impey both have decades of outstanding community service behind them. Lafond grew up on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. He was the provinces first aboriginal treaty commissioner.
His work led to an historic treaty land entitlement agreement in 1992. Throughout his career, he has worked tirelessly for better relations between governments and First Nations people.
He says receiving the order has special meaning for him.
“My late mother received the order of merit in 1988, almost 27 years ago,” he said. “You know I just sort of feel that public service was a part of my upbringing through her teachings and I am very honoured to be receiving this award.”
First Nations Elder, Isabelle Impey grew up at Cumberland house. She now lives in Prince Albert where she has won numerous awards for her work over the years as an advocate for indigenous children and families.
She says being named to the order of merit is not an honour that belongs just to her. She says she had a lot of help.
“For one thing, it was a big surprise because the work that I do, the volunteering and certainly helping the community is not done by myself,” she said. “I have a whole lot of other people there to make it happen.”
The award was created in 1985. Since then it has been awarded to 219 Saskatchewan residents.