(November 30, 2011) – Elder Dave Courchene Jr. (Nii Gaani Aki Inini – Leading Earth Man) of the Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan, was honoured along with 14 other representatives of the Indigenous community by a standing ovation by Parliament in Canada’s House of Commons on November 22.
Courchene was the recipient of the 2012 National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Culture, Heritage & Spirituality.
Elder Dave Courchene is the visionary behind the Turtle Lodge which is located in Sagkeeng, Manitoba.
The Turtle Lodge is an Indigenous centre which hosts a range of spiritual, educational and social events for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It seeks to establish relationships with communities across North America and the world.
The Awards celebrate excellence in the Indigenous community and the limitless potential that Indigenous people represent. They recognize the highest level of achievement and provide terrific role models for Indigenous youth to achieve their potential.
“Each and every one of our Award recipients is a leader and role model who has made a profound impact on communities across Canada and worldwide,” said Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. “By honouring their achievement we continue to inspire many others waiting to demonstrate their potential — which is why the work of the Foundation in providing much needed resources to First Nations, Inuit and Métis students is so essential.”
After the recipients were introduced in the House of Commons, they were honoured at a Special Reception hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer.
More detail on all the 2012 recipients can be found at http://www.naaf.ca/node/4052.
Last year, Elder Dave Courchene extended a hand of friendship to Canadian Muslims.
On August 8 2010, Elder Dave Courchene Jr., met with a group of Muslims in Toronto and presented a proposal to develop a relationship of brotherhood and sisterhood between the Aboriginal peoples and Muslims.
Courchene’s proposal titled, “Agreement Of Kii Zhay Otti Zi Win And Ukhuwa – An Agreement of The Spirit of Friendship, Kindness, Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Sharing And Gentleness”, stated that it ‘will act as a gateway to furthering a relationship of knowing each other, and supporting each other in the sharing of each other’s unique contributions to Canadian society, for the common good of all.’
In response to the proposal presented by Courchene, a Statement of Understanding was tabled at the meeting which reflected the intention of Muslims to enter a relationship with Turtle Lodge.
The Statement from the Muslims reads, “We recognize that all people on Turtle Island (Canada) would benefit from understanding Indigenous worldviews and that the ability of Indigenous Peoples to share has been inhibited by the effects of colonization. In developing a relationship, Indigenous Peoples and Muslims can better understand our worldviews and support one another in justice and societal betterment.”
Elder Dave Courchene spoke at the reception, stating:
“We must look at the deeper reason for why we are being acknowledged here today. I give full credit to my mother and my grandmother – all our mothers – who inspired me to know what a beautiful way of life that we have as Indigenous people.”
“We are being propelled into a movement that is going to affect the whole world. This time belongs to us now. We must not be afraid to share the truth of our identity as a beautiful, beautiful people who have always been peaceful.”
“We need to bring that spirit and understanding to the world. We are being given everything we need to advance this ancient knowledge that can help take man beyond this separation and violence that we see in the world today.”
“All these doors of opportunity will open for us. The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards will open a door of opportunity to speak even more about this ancient Indigenous knowledge that we have that has been handed to us from our ancestors.”
The 2012 Award recipients will be honoured again at a special gala event on February 24, 2012 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, BC, which will be broadcast live across Canada.