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Gabriel Dumont Institute to Invest Five into the Order of Gabriel Dumont

The Order of Gabriel Dumont is among the Métis Nation’s highest civilian honours.

Feb 28, 2024

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(SASKATOON, SK)— The Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI), a Métis-owned post-secondary and cultural institution based in Saskatoon with campuses across Saskatchewan, is proud to announce it will invest five individuals into the Order of Gabriel Dumont at a special awards event on March 22, 2024, in Saskatoon.

The Order of Gabriel Dumont is among the Métis Nation’s highest civilian honours. It is awarded by GDI to Métis and non-Métis individuals who have served or continue to serve the Métis of Canada with distinction. This year, three Gold medals and two Silver medals will be awarded. “The contributions of these five recipients are truly remarkable. We are proud of their unwavering commitment to the Métis community and the generational legacies that they have bestowed on us. Congratulations on behalf of the Métis Nation,” said Wendy Gervais, Chair of the GDI Board of Governors.

The Order of Gabriel Dumont Gold Medal recognizes a lifetime of outstanding service to the Métis of Canada, and the Order of Gabriel Dumont Silver Medal honours those who have made significant contributions to the Métis. “It is important to us to recognize the sacrifice and dedication of our Métis Elders, Knowledge Keepers, educators, artists, and advocates who work hard to preserve Métis culture and language. Maarsii (thank you) to this year’s recipients for their years of important community work,” said Brett Vandale, Acting Executive Director, GDI.

Since its inception in the 1980s, 103 individuals have been invested into the Order. Appointments are adjudicated by a selection committee based on nominations from the public. The last investiture was held in March 2023, where five gold medals and two silver medals were awarded.

Please click here for a list of past recipients and other information about the Order of Gabriel Dumont.



Grace Zoldy Camperville, Manitoba
Grace Zoldy (née Ledoux) was born on December 13, 1933, in Camperville, Manitoba. She is a proud Michif mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Grace is a Michif language keeper, advocate, and language teacher and has supported language revitalization across the Métis Nation for well over half a century. Fluent in Southern Michif, Plains Cree, Saulteaux, French, and English, she generously shares her language and Métis cultural knowledge. Grace has been involved with the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) since its earliest days in 1960, volunteering and mentoring within the MMF Michif Language program. She also initiated the Mentor-Apprentice Program pilot project in Camperville, creating a new generation of Michif language speakers. She has collaborated with researchers and linguists as a language consultant, contributing to various Michif language projects and publications, including her own book, Li Livr Oche Michif Ayamiiawine: The Book of Michif Prayers. Beyond mentoring, she has been at the forefront of the Métis social justice movement, particularly focusing on women’s issues and supporting survivors of day schools. Grace embodies all Métis values, and her lifetime of service resonates across the Métis Homeland and beyond.

Christi Belcourt Espanola, Ontario
Christi Belcourt (apihtâwikosisâniskwêw / mânitow sâkahikanihk) has Métis family roots connected to Manitou Saskhigan (Lac St. Anne), Alberta. Christi is a Métis visual artist, author, community organizer, environmentalist, social justice advocate, and avid land-based arts and language learner. Christi has a deep respect for the traditions and knowledge of Métis people. She is known for her large floral landscapes that emulate Métis beadwork. Her paintings can be found in many public and permanent collections across North America, with the Gabriel Dumont Institute holding the most extensive collection of her work worldwide, including all of her portraits. Christi is known for her advocacy for protecting Mother Earth, respecting all living things, and supporting human rights. She has organized several large national community-based projects, including “Walking with Our Sisters,” the Willisville Mountain Project, and various works done with the Onaman Collective. Christi is a recipient of several awards of note, including a Premier’s Award in the Arts, a Governor General’s Award for Innovation, and an Honorary Doctorate from both Algoma University and Wilfrid Laurier University. She donates much of her time and income to supporting Indigenous language revitalization.

Irma Klyne Balcarres, Saskatchewan
Irma Klyne was born in Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Her Métis family lived on the road allowance in the Qu’Appelle Valley east of Katepwa. She attended Fort Qu’Appelle School and later moved to Regina to work for various Indigenous organizations. Irma is passionate about preserving her Michif language and shares her pride in reclaiming her first language. Her dedication to language learning and revitalization is exemplary. Irma is now one of a handful of sought-after Michif speakers, teachers, and translators. Working with her partner Larry Fayant, she has contributed to Michif-language banking and preservation efforts, including translating storybooks. Irma has been instrumental in teaching teachers and language learners for many years. Irma retired from working with the Gabriel Dumont Institute after 32 years of service. She has always been the student’s biggest champion, sharing cultural values, teachings, and experiences and helping many reconnect with their Michif identity and community. Her philosophy of life is “Pahpi tou lee jour akwa kawya waneehkay tanday ka oohtoohtayen” (“laugh every day and never forget where you come from!”)


Evelyn Johnston Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Evelyn Johnston was born on July 7, 1950, in Edmonton, Alberta, to Métis parents, Mary Caron and Gilbert Cunningham. She has three children and ten grandchildren with her late husband, Grant Johnston, whom she loves wholeheartedly. She instills in them the desire to be proud Métis people. Evelyn has proved herself a tireless volunteer in the Métis community. For over 30 years, she has been an active member of Métis Local 165, Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. During her tenure, she has been an enthusiastic ambassador representing the community at conferences and events and has consistently advocated for the Métis education agenda. Recently, she has worked to establish an annual Michif Language Camp for educators at Back to Batoche. Evelyn has been a significant advocate in developing and promoting educational partnerships with both school divisions in Saskatoon. She has been a member of boards, governance groups, and working groups, providing a strong voice in terms of vision and implementation. These long-standing partnerships have impacted the lives of thousands of Métis and non-Métis youth as they learn about Métis history, culture, and the Michif language.

Patricia (Trish) LaFontaine Regina, Saskatchewan
Trish Lafontaine, from Regina, Saskatchewan, has familial ties to Lebret, Saskatchewan, through her grandparents, Marion Amyotte and Joseph Welsh. She’s a mother and grandmother and is the daughter of Norma Welsh, a 2020 Order of Gabriel Dumont Silver Medal recipient. Trish graduated from the Gabriel Dumont Institute’s Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program in 1991, became an educator, and earned a Master’s degree. Thereafter, Trish was employed by the Government of Saskatchewan as a Senior Policy Analyst, Superintendent, and Program Manager. During her career with the government, she wrote cabinet and legislative items, the high school Cree curriculum, and the Native Studies curriculum, which is still being used today. Trish has served as a volunteer Board Member for Gabriel Housing and the Métis Cultural Development Fund and as the lead for First Nations and Métis Women’s Initiatives and Indigenous Knowledge Professional Development. She’s been awarded the Premier’s Award for her work on the Sixties Scoop Apology and the Deputy Minister’s Role Model Award. In addition to Trish’s employment, educational, and volunteer accomplishments, she is a respected role model representing the best of what it means to be Métis.

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