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Maude Barlow: Why I'm sending back my Diamond Jubilee Medal

Photo: Brent Patterson

A few months ago, I received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and my husband put it in a lovely frame and hung it up. On Friday, we took it down and on Monday I will send it back to Rideau Hall.

This was not a light decision. Although I am not a monarchist, I do recognize the power of symbol and know that a great many wonderful Canadians were proud to receive this honour for their dedication to their communities and I felt proud to be in such company.

But the actions of the Harper government in recent months have been so extraordinarily anti-democratic and just plain wrong for this country, that I and many other Canadians are having to find whatever means we can to protest.

Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement, with whom my organization is working closely, have taken a brave and visionary stand to oppose the draconian omnibus bills that are destroying environmental protection in our country.

Without consultation with First Nations, as required under their Treaty rights, or with other Canadians who have fought for these laws over decades, the Harper government unilaterally gutted the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and many other laws, ushering in a free for all on our water heritage.

Chief Spence, in putting herself and her life on the line, is doing so to sound the alarm on what these awful omnibus bills will mean to all of us and to future generations. I for one am deeply grateful.

If it is too much for my Prime Minister or my Governor General to walk across a bridge to Victoria Island to greet this brave woman by her sacred fire, I don't want any honour they can bestow.

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