Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presents the Order of Canada to Chief Terry Paul of Membertou, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday. CP PHOTO ‘He has given so much and yet he feels like there’s more to give’
MEMBERTOU, N.S. — For those in his home community who gathered to watch it, Chief Terry Paul’s investiture into the Order of Canada came with some unanticipated suspense.
The livestream of the ceremony originating from Rideau Hall in Ottawa that was being played in a room at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre Friday was glitchy, with several periods where buffering caused a frustrating spinning arrow to appear.
In the end, the broadcast was switched over to another online stream in time so that the 30 or so people gathered could watch as Paul, wearing his headdress, received the honour from Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette, his community members proudly applauding as he stepped forward.
“That was an emotional roller-coaster,” one of the audience members said, as the crowd broke up.
Paul has been chief of Membertou for 33 years, leading it from a deficit position to become an economic powerhouse and model for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities alike.
The Order of Canada recognizes Canadians who have made contributions that have enriched the lives of others.
During the ceremony, Paul was described as having dedicated his life to establishing a better future for his community members, especially youth, and as having championed the preservation of language and history through education.
Through a spokesperson, Paul indicated he wasn’t available for an interview Friday.
In a news release, he said he was honoured to be appointed to the Order of Canada.
“I am thankful to my community for their part in making Membertou the wonderful place we call home today,” Paul said. “Our hard work and perseverance throughout the years has ensured a promising future for not only ourselves, but for our children. The future looks bright in Membertou.”
Among those on hand to watch the ceremony via the livestream was Sr. Dorothy Moore, herself a recipient of the Order of Canada in recognition of her work as an educator.
“If Chief Terry feels the same way I did when I received the Order of Canada a few years ago, I would say he’s elated, he’s absolutely elated to be given this honour,” Moore said in an interview. “For me, it was unbelievable … It’s an honour not for me, so much, as for all First Nation, for Mi’kmaq people and all the ones who worked with me relating to education.”
Paul’s investiture comes at an important time for Canada’s Indigenous people, as there seems to be a heightened awareness of issues facing their communities, more so than at other periods in the country’s past.
“I would also add to it that it’s a long time coming,” Moore added. “We have struggled for so many years and I think reconciliation is beginning to happen.”
Paul receiving the honour could also be seen as an acknowledgement of Membertou’s significant achievements over the past couple of decades, of which Paul was a key architect, Moore said.“I think without Terry’s leadership, Membertou would not be where it is today,” she said. “I think he has been persistent, he has persevered, and he’s so humble about it. He has given so much and yet he feels like there’s more to give. I think it’s such a worthy recognition for our chief.”Richard Paul grew up in Toronto but his family hailed from Membertou and in 2008 it was Terry Paul who recruited him to come to work there as a senior business development officer. He is now Membertou’s chief operating officer.“He […]
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