Carolyn King receives Order of Canada in special ceremony

She was awarded Canada’s highest honour during the pandemic and last week, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation elder and esteemed community member, volunteer and knowledge keeper received her Order of Canada medal in person at a special ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

King, who is known for her years of volunteerism, advocacy for her people, and ambitious, Ontario-wide Moccasin Identifier project, was named to the Order in 2021.

She received the prestigious award in person last week in Ottawa.

King, who was the first female Chief of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, joins Justice Harry Laforme, and Pat Mandy, former chair of the College of Nurses of Ontario, to become the third person in the small community to receive one of the country’s top honours.

King was awarded the honour for her expertise in community development, her advocacy of Indigenous-led initiatives, and her efforts to improve Canada’s understanding of First Nations.

King told the Tow Row Times she was surprised to find out she was appointed to the Order of Canada when she got the called in early December from Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

“It was amazing. I was surprised. I felt pretty good about it that people thought I should be honoured at that level.”

It took numerous phone calls from Rideau Hall to reach King to inform her of the prestigious honour.

“I didn’t call back,” she said. “I was busy with other things.”

Finally, King called back.

“By the third or fourth call, the lady was getting desperate,” said King with a chuckle. “I thought they were calling (for me) to give a recommendation to someone else.”

When Rideau Hall informed her that she was the one being appointed a member of the Order of Canada, King’s reaction was, “oh my goodness.”

King said she was already honoured at such a high level within her own community, however, when she was given an eagle feather at the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation powwow.

“If you don’t understand how important it is,” she said, “it’s like your Order of Canada. Now I have both. I get to say that now.”

King has been a busy woman all her life. Constantly involved in community politics and community improvement, King never stops. Whatever project she starts, she finishes.

“It’s because something needed to get done,” she said. “Somebody needed to do something. It’s the women who take up the work. There was so much to do.”

King was the first female chief of MCFN in the late 90s, serving for one term before she called it quits in politics. The role prevented her from getting any work done, she said.

King is passionate about community development and is currently in the middle of an ambitious multi-year project to place “moccasin identifiers” throughout Southern Ontario. The moccasin identifiers consist of stenciled or carved moccasins at historic places in Ontario with plaques that explain a little bit of the history of the Mississauga people.

King is frequently found on the lecture circuit educating Canadians about Indigenous peoples and their history.

She is also big on building relationships with allies across Ontario.

“We need to have good relations with all the people around us to do what we need to do. We couldn’t do it all ourselves.”

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