THUNDER BAY, ON – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, have congratulated Indian Residential School survivor and advocate Garnet Angeconeb, who was formally presented the Insignia for the Order of Canada today by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
“Garnet is an inspiring leader and a great friend and we honour his dedication to helping Indian Residential School survivors on their path to healing,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, who attended the ceremony at the Centennial Centre in Sioux Lookout this morning. “Garnet was pivotal in the movement to get compensation for Indian Residential School survivors and the apology from the Government of Canada, and his work towards reconciliation is recognized Canada-wide.”
Angeconeb was invested into the Order of Canada on November 19, 2012 but was unable to attend the ceremony in Ottawa due to illness. Her Honour travelled to Sioux Lookout to make the presentation on behalf of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.
Originally from Lac Seul First Nation, Angeconeb left his family and community at age 7 to attend Pelican Falls Indian Residential School from 1963 to 1969. He completed secondary school in Sioux Lookout and graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a diploma in journalism in 1982.
Angeconeb promoted traditional language and culture in a variety of roles with Wawatay Native Communications Society. He developed Wawatay Radio Network coverage for northern and remote First Nations and was a founding editor of Wawatay News. He has also worked for CBC Radio Bay and served as executive director of the Independent First Nations Alliance.
Angeconeb became the first Aboriginal person to be elected councillor in the Town of Sioux Lookout in 1985. He is a founding member of the Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee and has served on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation’s board of directors since 1998. He received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award in 2002 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012 for his contributions to the community.
“Garnet refused to be silent at a time when no one acknowledged the horrors of the Residential School system. Helping survivors find their paths to healing and fostering understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities has been his life’s work and passion,” said Fiddler. “Garnet has showed us how to turn anger into a voice for justice, and his experiences provide a roadmap to guide us all on our journey towards reconciliation.”
Despite a diagnosis of Kennedy’s Disease, a neurological muscular degenerative disorder, Angeconeb remains a tireless champion for Residential School survivors and is widely recognized as a bridge-builder between cultures. He lives with his wife Margaret Susla in Sioux Lookout.
He developed a website (www.garnetsjourney.com) based on his personal experiences for people to learn about the Residential School system.