Alberta Sweetgrass: Littlechild “Humbled” to Receive Order of Excellence

By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor NEW YORK

Wilton Littlechild
Wilton Littlechild

International Chief Wilton Littlechild will be invested in this year’s Alberta Order of Excellence.

“I would like to see that recognition add weight to my voice,” said Littlechild, who recently spoke at the United Nations assembly in New York, where he serves as the North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Littlechild has been a considerable force in moving forward the rights of Indigenous peoples, both at home and internationally.

He is passionate about the work he does to improve education and living conditions for Indigenous children. He organized a coalition of Indigenous nations that was successful in gaining consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. In Canada, Littlechild serves as a commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, tasked with travelling the country over the past five years and gathering stories from residential school survivors as well as working with the churches that signed the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and the federal government to access pertinent documentation.

The investiture in the Alberta Order of Excellence is just one in a long line of recognition Littlechild has received locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. In fact, Littlechild was recently nominated by the United States for the Nobel Peace prize.

But to be recognized at home is especially rewarding, he says.
“I feel very honoured and at the same time humbled because I know Alberta has a lot of rich people in terms of talent, in terms of contribution to the world, in terms of contribution to our country, and in particular, contribution to our own province,” said Littlechild.

In 1976, Littlechild, a member of the Ermineskin First Nation, became the first Treaty First Nation person to acquire his law degree from the University of Alberta. In June of 2007, the U of A bestowed the Doctor of Laws Degree on him for his outstanding achievements. Littlechild served as a Member of Parliament from 1988 – 1993 for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimby. Littlechild was honoured by being appointed the Honourary Chief for the Maskwacis Crees and also honoured by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations as the International Chief for Treaty No. 6 Confederacy.

“It’s interesting in a way because this is not why we go into the work we do. We don’t go into it for getting these awards, we believe in (our work) and if we work hard enough something happens,” said Littlechild.

“The Alberta Order of Excellence is about recognizing those who have made a difference, who have served Albertans with distinction, and whose contributions will stand the test of time,” said Lt. Gov. Donald S. Ethell, Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence, in a news release.

The AOE is the highest honour the province can bestow on a citizen.

“Sometimes it’s the recognition at home that means the most,” said Littlechild.

The investiture ceremony will be held on Oct. 15, in Edmonton. Joining Littlechild are seven other Albertans: Sharon Carry, Colin Glassco, Julie Hamilton, and Fred Mannix, all of Calgary; Tony Cashman and Reinhard Muhlenfeld, both of Edmonton; and Morris Flewwelling, of Red Deer.

(AMMSA – Sweetgrass)