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Medal recognizes contributions of young and old
One is a veteran Chief while the other is just a teenager.
But Richard Kappo, who is the Chief of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation and Treaty 8 Grand Chief, has something in common with 17-year-old Ryan Crosschild: both are recipients of the Diamond Jubilee medal, an honour which will be awarded to 60,000 Canadians in 2012.
The medal was created this year to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne. The award is being presented to Canadians who have made a significant contribution in any field at home or abroad.
Kappo and Crosschild were among a group of 21 Albertans who were presented with their awards during a ceremony in Edmonton on Feb. 6.
“I’ve been getting lots of comments about it,” Kappo said of his award. “I just do the job the best I can.”
Kappo has been the Chief of his community for the past eight years and Treaty 8 Grand Chief since this past July.
Kappo said the significance of this award was magnified for him when he saw that the list of other recipients across the country included legendary Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot.
“I’ve always been a Gordon Lightfoot fan,” Kappo said. “When I saw his name that really impressed upon me that this is quite a prestigious award.”
Crosschild, a Grade 12 student at Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge, said he was shocked to hear that he was a medal recipient.
“I didn’t know too much about this award,” he said. “Then I did a little bit of research about it. I didn’t think a high school student from small town Lethbridge would get such a prestigious award.”
But Crosschild, a member of the Blood Tribe, is certainly a deserving winner.
Since November of 2009 he has been on Alberta’s youth advisory panel and for the past two years he has also been a member of the city of Lethbridge’s youth advisory council.
Last year he joined the Lethbridge-based Opokaasin Youth Group, an organization which allows Aboriginals to hang out during informal meetings while planning various community initiatives.
“The stuff I do is purely for my passion,” said Crosschild, who has an average of more than 90 per cent in his final year of high school studies. “One thing has just led to another.”
Upon graduating from high school, Crosschild plans to continue his education at the University of British Columbia, where he hopes to work towards a business degree.
“My main goal is to get a law degree of some sort,” he said. “It’s been something I’ve been aspiring to since about Grade 7.”
Crosschild plans to put his law degree to good use by assisting with various First Nations issues.
The Premier’s Office nominated Kappo for his award. Crosschild was nominated by Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell.
Besides Kappo and Crosschild, two other Aboriginals were honoured at the Feb. 6 ceremony. They were Audrey Poitras, the president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and Cameron Alexis, the Chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and the Treaty 6 Grand Chief.
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