Leader who fought to have Métis people recognized in the Constitution placed on stamp

By Mickey Djuric

A Métis leader who fought to have his people recognized in the Constitution is to appear on a new Canada Post stamp later this month.

Harry Daniels, who was originally from Regina Beach, Sask., spent 40 years of his life advocating for Métis rights before he died in 2004.

Daniels’s widow, Cheryl Storkson, said she believes the commemorative stamp cements his legacy.

“He’s had a lot of honours … but this is the biggest, the proudest for all of us,” Storkson said Monday. “Look him up, because he was wonderful.”

Daniels is most recognized for pushing to have Métis and non-status Indians included in the Constitution.

In addition to being an activist, Daniels was also a politician, writer and actor. 

He was first elected to office in 1972 as vice-president of the Métis Association of Alberta, now known as Métis Nation of Alberta.

From there he would go on to represent Métis peoples provincially, nationally and internationally. 

In 1974, he was elected secretary-treasurer of the Native Council of Canada, now known as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and later served as its president and chief executive officer.

Harry Daniels, an Indigenous leader who fought to have Métis people recognized in the Constitution, is being celebrated on a Canada Post stamp.

His sister, Laurena Daniels, said it was emotional seeing his face on the stamp, which was revealed at a special ceremony in Regina on Monday. 

“He dedicated most of his life to the Métis cause and he sacrificed a lot with his family for this,” she said. 

Hugh Daniels said his brother would have enjoyed the celebration.

Throughout the day, friends, family and former colleagues shared stories of Daniels’s quick wit, jovial personality and strength. 

“He’d be proud. He liked the limelight,'” Hugh Daniels said. 

The stamp of Daniels is the first in Canada Post’s Indigenous leaders series. 

Two other leaders, Jose Kusugak of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, of Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., will have their stamps revealed later this week.

A set of stamps is to be released on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. 

Others to appear on stamps include Kusugak, an Inuit activist, linguist and broadcaster who played a critical role in efforts that led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

He is also known for coining the phrase “First Canadians, Canadians First” to describe his people, and was part of the first generation of Inuit children sent to residential schools. 

Day Walker-Pelletier has spent almost 40 years as leader of the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan. She’s believed to be the longest-serving elected chief in Canada. 

She was also part of the Indigenous delegation that met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in the spring to discuss the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, of which she is a survivor. 

Ben McCutcheon, a general manager of operations at Canada Post, said it’s important for the organization to recognize Indigenous leaders who make up the fabric of Canada.

“I look at a postage stamp as more than just a stamp,” McCutcheon said.

“It’s immortalizing those leaders and it tells a story. It’s more than just a picture.”