Cree chief awarded highest provincial honour, says owes success to balancing of life

The Honourary Chief of the Maskwacis Cree Wilton Littlechild has been named one of the eight recipients of Alberta’s Order of Excellence

Wilton Littlechild

Wilton Littlechild

The Honourary Chief of the Maskwacis Cree Wilton Littlechild has been named one of the eight recipients of Alberta’s Order of Excellence for 2014, the highest honour bestowed by the province to its citizens.

With already numerous “firsts” under his belt, Chief Littlechild’s Order of Excellence Award was announced on Wednesday, Oct. 15 by a council chaired by Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell and bringing together several volunteer members, prominent members of the public.

Currently practicing law out of his Ermineskin office, Wilton Littlechild became the first MP in the Canadian legislature coming from a First Nation origin after having received his law degree for University of Alberta, again being the first member of a First Nation to receive that degree.

Apart from his academic and political achievements, Littlechild is also known as an accomplished athlete, who has just won several medals in swimming competitions in the 55+ Alberta Games.

In an interview, Littlechild said his motivation to become an achiever had its roots in the way he was brought up.

“My motivation comes from early instructions of my grandparents who raised me to pursue excellence in everything I did. Simply it was to balance four elements of life: Physically, mentally, culturally and spiritually,” he explained. “For me this has been a formula for success in sports, education and business.”

“Another teaching of my grandparents is to always give back to your community,” he added.

Asked about how he thought the Maskwacis Cree communities have been dealing with their problems, Chief Littlechild sounded optimistic.

“While we continue to face challenges, as everyone does, we have made progress in many areas, in particular in business and education,” he said.

“We have made strides also in continuing to heal from inter generational trauma. I am very encouraged in our efforts to continue building on the strengths of our people.”

With respect to his expectations of development among Maskwacis communities, Littlechild said “So five years from now, I see continued progress in all elements of life because there is a new leadership that is returning to our community with holistic education.”

He sounded equally sanguine about First Nations strengthening their cultural identity and better managing their lives and their resources.

“Making progress in re-claiming what is right is an incremental process,” he continued.

“Any effort to maintain cultural balance with economic resource management has a spiritual dimension and we are reminded by our traditional knowledge keepers to be careful. So long as we respect our spiritual teachings then we have a chance to make things better for our collective future and progress continues in a good way.”

Alberta Order of Excellence is conferred to individuals who make a difference in the life of their communities.