A member of the Pikwàkanagàn First Nation is being honoured by Canada’s Governor General.
But true to her fighting spirit, Lynn Gehl doesn’t plan on sitting back after accepting the award. She plans to continue raising awareness of Indigenous issues, as she doesn’t feel reconciliation has been achieved.
Still, Gehl says she’s happy to receive the honour, which recognizes a lifetime of raising awareness of colonial issues, and particularly injustices to First Nation women and girls, through her writings and advocacy work.
But she says she’s most grateful when her work is praised, not by institutions, but by the people she fights for.
“I think the most validation I get is from Indigenous people who tell me that my work has served them,” she says. “It’s so crucial I receive that and I’m grateful when I get it. It’s more meaningful to hear that I have helped them.”
The award Gehl’s receiving is called the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. It goes to women who’ve fought for gender equality.
She says being honoured by a Canadian institution makes for some complicated feelings, but she believes accepting the award is important and she hopes it will help her be perceived as a positive role model for her community.
“I think my work will always continue,” she says. “I was born in the context of colonial genocide and I’m sure I’ll die within the context of colonial genocide. My advice to young Indigenous boys and girls and the binary gender is to keep trying to be happy and being the best human you can be.”:
Gehl is one of six women being honoured with the award this year.