by Phil Ambroziak

Glenn Lafleur has dedicated his life to bettering educational opportunities for Saskatchewan’s Métis people and his efforts have not gone unrecognized.

The former Beauval resident is one of 25 new appointments to the Order of Gabriel Dumont, am initiative of Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI) in Saskatoon. Lafleur, who until recently called La Ronge home, will receive an Order of Gabriel Dumont silver medal during a special ceremony held in Saskatoon Feb. 7.

“It’s very humbling to be recognized for the work I have done in the Métis world,” Lafleur stated. “It’s really something. And, as a Métis person, I have always done my very best to make a difference and to give back to the community in some way.”

Lafleur served on the GDI board for 15 years. He is considered a community leader and has volunteered to work with youth, serving as treasurer of the Crushers Hockey League, as a board member for the La Ronge Ice Wolves, and as a board member for the Northern Lights School Division. He has also been instrumental in attracting corporate financial assistance for Métis students in Saskatchewan. His career with Orano Canada Inc., however, recently saw him relocate to Saskatoon.

“It’s very rewarding for me to be involved and to see all these things flourish,” he said. “But, even though I am the one being recognized by GDI, it’s important to remember I was only ever one person. It’s the entire group, the entire committee that is responsible for so much success.”

In addition to Lafleur’s award, GDI – a Métis-owned post-secondary and cultural Institute based – will also recognize three Order of Gabriel Dumont gold medal recipients, one more silver medal recipient and 20 bronze medal recipients. The gold medal recognizes a lifetime of outstanding service to the Métis of Canada and among this year’s recipients will be Clem Chartier of Buffalo Narrows, the current president of the Métis National Council.

“I feel very fortunate and honoured to receive this award from the Gabriel Dumont Institute in recognition of the work I, and other Métis leaders and elders from Saskatchewan, have dedicated to promoting our rights within this province,” Chartier said. “I am especially pleased to have a revered institution such as GDI issue this award, as it is the leading educational and cultural institution in the Métis Nation homeland which has done so much to protect and promote the integrity of our people here in western Canada.”

The silver medal, meanwhile, honours those who have made significant contributions to the Métis, while the bronze medal goes to GDI students and alumni who have distinguished themselves through leadership, community involvement and overall performance. Among this year’s bronze medal recipients are Laureen Guetre of La Loche, Nikki Natomagan of Pinehouse Lake, as well as Rosine Thibault and Dayna Georges of Meadow Lake.

“The Order of Gabriel Dumont is awarded by the Gabriel Dumont Institute to persons who have distinguished themselves with outstanding service to the Métis of Canada,” reiterated Geordy McCaffrey, GDI executive director. “It is one of the Métis Nation’s highest civilian honours, awarded to Métis and non-Métis individuals based on their achievements and lifetime contributions.”

The Feb. 7 ceremony will take place at the Saskatoon Inn and Conference Centre as part of the GDI 40th Anniversary Culture and Educational Conference.

“I will be there for sure,” Lafleur said. “It was always my goal to make sure GDI was always in the forefront when it came to education, training and employment opportunities. GDI is dear to my heart and always will be.”