Grand Chief Abel Bosum invested into the Order of Canada

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Credit: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG

After a successful career as a Cree negotiator and a victorious bid for the office of Grand Chief of the Council of the Crees in 2017, Abel Bosum can now add an Order of Canada to his impressive list of accomplishments.

“Abel Bosum’s story is one of exceptional achievement,” said the Governor General’s office in a press release. “From residential school survivor to devoted leader, this gifted negotiator has concluded historic agreements and addressed collective development, economic health and governance issues for the Cree Nation.”

Established in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of the highest attainable civilian honours in the country. It recognizes those who have made significant contributions to their society. Grand Chief Bosum was designated a member of the Order of Canada in a September 6 ceremony at Rideau Hall.

The Grand Council of the Crees Executive Director Bill Namagoose described Bosum as an embodiment of the “tremendous creativity” demonstrated by the Cree Nation over the past 40 years.

“Abel has been an important part of this creative endeavour – we applaud his achievements and we applaud Canada for recognizing those achievements,” said Namagoose.

For his part, Grand Chief Bosum said the nomination was unexpected and deflected praise for his efforts to the many people who have supported him over the years.

“It came as a surprise to me,” he said. “But it does feel good to be recognized for the work that I’ve done, while I’m still alive. I want to thank my wife Sophie who has backed me and supported me unconditionally from the very beginning. The rest of my family, my daughter Irene Quinn, my sons Curtis and Reggie – all of them made sacrifices to allow me to pursue my passions and fulfill my purpose.”

Ultimately the credit goes to Cree leaders, advisors and the Cree people, the Grand Chief stated.

“All the work that they’ve done to stay united, to create the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and all the progress made in providing services to the communities. We’ve seen tremendous development. All the Chiefs and all the people who contributed are all responsible for our success.”

While being invested into the Order of Canada is a major milestone, Bosum is already looking forward to address ongoing Cree issues as he continues his mandate at the helm of Eeyou Istchee.

“Housing is a real need in our communities,” he said. “Along with that, creating employment and securing contracts for small and medium-sized businesses.”

Bosum also noted that the Grand Council is working with the Cree entities that provide services for hunters and trappers, in an effort to improve their services in a way that the benefits reach the people who need them the most.

Finally, he took a moment to remember his late son Nathaniel, who the family lost in a tragic motocross accident in Baie-Comeau July 1.

“We’re also involved in capacity building, inspired by my own son Nathaniel who heard the call and answered it,” he said. “I feel that the best way to honour him is to continue that work, helping youth and giving them the support, they need.”

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