Governor General of Canada

Governor General of Canada

May 19, 2009 11:22 ET

Media Advisory: Governor General to Present Two Northern Medals

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2009) - Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General's Northern Medal to Ms. Bertha Allen, C.M. and to Mr. Georges Henry Erasmus, O.C. at Rideau Hall on Thursday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m.

Created in 2005, the Governor General's Northern Medal is awarded to a citizen whose actions and achievements have contributed to the evolution and constant reaffirmation of the Canadian North as part of our national identity. Former recipients of the Governor General's Northern Medal are Sheila Watt-Cloutier, O.C. and Ms. Nellie J. Cournoyea, O.C.


Bertha Allen, C.M.

Inuvik, Northwest Territories

A member of the Gwich'in First Nation, Bertha Allen is widely respected for her grassroots leadership in support of equality for Aboriginal and northern women, particularly their inclusion as government decision makers. Ms. Allen founded the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories, and later became its national president. She was also the only woman to serve on the Commission for Constitutional Development, which drafted a proposal for the creation of Nunavut. Ms. Allen's other prestigious accomplishments include the establishment of the Native Women's Training Centres of both Yellowknife and Inuvik, as well as her involvement with the Territorial Hospital Insurance Board and the NWT Judicial Appointments Committee. A former president of the advisory council of the Status of Women Council of the NWT, she is currently lending her expertise to its Women's Voices Leadership Initiative. Ms. Allen is a continuous source of inspiration for generations of Aboriginal peoples in the North.

Georges Henry Erasmus, O.C.

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Georges Henry Erasmus has long been acclaimed for his work and leadership in promoting Native rights, as well as improving living standards in northern communities. Elected president of the Dene Nation in 1976, Mr. Erasmus was later elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, from 1985 to 1991, guiding the First Nations through turbulent times, including the Oka crisis of 1990. He was subsequently appointed as the co-chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. In this capacity, he helped to produce what has become a benchmark report in public policy, demanding that Aboriginal persons be recognized as full contributing partners in the Canadian federation. Currently, Mr. Erasmus serves as chief negotiator for the Dehcho First Nations. He is also president of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which serves to help individuals and communities deal with the traumatic effects of the residential schools. A passionate advocate for Aboriginal peoples, Mr. Erasmus continues to champion northern development.

Additional information on the Northern Medal can be found on ANNEX A:

ANNEX A - the Governor General's Northern Medal

In 2005, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, created the Governor General's Northern Medal, a medallion to be awarded to a citizen whose actions and achievements have contributed to the evolution and constant reaffirmation of the Canadian North as part of our national identity.

Canadian citizens who have made an outstanding contribution to Canada's northern communities in one or more fields; whose achievements have benefited the North; who have strengthened Canada's recognition of this region and its peoples; or who have promoted a greater awareness and understanding of the North are eligible. An advisory committee consisting of - representatives of Aboriginal and northern communities and/or individuals who have a special expertise or knowledge of northern affairs advise the Governor General on the award and recommend recipients.

Contact Information

  • Rideau Hall Press Office
    Marie-Eve Letourneau