Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, like Anishinabek Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee a few weeks ago, has declined a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal, citing the policies of the Crown and the Canadian government toward aboriginals.
“Accepting the medal at this time would condone the fact that the British Crown and Canadian government are ignoring the legal and historical connection they have with treaty nations,” Beardy said in a statement on February 6 from the Chiefs of Ontario.
He supported Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence in her foregoing of solid food for six weeks in protest against government policies, most notably the passage of Bill C-45, the omnibus budget legislation. Beardy had written a letter on December 20 asking the Queen to intervene on behalf of Spence, but “he recently received a response from her Majesty that he felt was unsatisfactory,” the Chiefs of Ontario statement said.
Various other reasons contributed to Beardy’s decision, he said in the statement. He also did it out of support for the Idle No More movement, as well as to highlight what he feels is the hollowness of the 2008 apology from Canada for the residential school system.
“Canada and Britain must deal in good faith with the realities on the ground before celebrating a relationship that is clearly strained with the potential for unforeseen outcomes that could exasperate an already charged atmosphere. Reset the Treaty relationship for the sake of our youth and the fundamental goodwill of all Canadians,” Beardy said.
Beardy is the second chief to turn down a Diamond Jubilee medal. On January 22 Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee also declined a nomination.
The medals are being given out in honor of the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Both Beardy and Madahbee supported Spence in her hunger strike and counseled Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo to think twice about a January 11 meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that did not include Governor General David Johnston representing the Crown. Johnston met with Spence and more than 100 other chiefs after the first meeting, but Spence continued her strike for another week, until signing a 13-point Declaration of Commitment that articulated aboriginals' goals.