Canada Post begins unveiling stamps 'immortalizing' Indigenous leaders

A news release from Canada Post said the stamps, which will become available on June 21 — National Indigenous Peoples Day — feature Harry Daniels, Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier and Inuk leader Jose Kusugak.

Stamp featuring Métis leader and advocate Harry Daniels shown off in Regina on Monday

A selection committee determined Harry Daniels, pictured on this stamp unveiled on Monday in Regina, would become one of three leaders featured on stamps to be released on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day. The image was created after consulting with his widow Cheryl Storkson and Indigenous leaders. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC News)

Three figures from recent history are to be honoured by having their likenesses represented on stamps to be sold by Canada Post later this month.

A news release from Canada Post said the stamps, which will become available on June 21 — National Indigenous Peoples Day — feature Harry Daniels, Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier and Jose Kusugak in recognition for their commitment and contributions to the Métis, First Nations and Inuit communities they served.

The stamp featuring Daniels, who died in 2004, was unveiled in Regina on Monday.

Cheryl Storkson, Daniels' widow, spoke with CBC Radio's Morning Edition before the ceremony.

"It just blew my mind, nearly 18 years later. It was just wonderful that he was being recognized," she said.

Storkson said Daniels was a "driven" man who was passionate about what he did, particularly around politics and fighting for Indigenous rights.

A Métis man from Saskatchewan, his legal battle, Daniels v. Canada, would lead to the recognition of Métis and non-status First Nations people as "Indians" as per Canada's constitution in 2016.

In 1999, prominent Métis leader Harry Daniels started the landmark case that was settled by the Supreme Court in 2016. Daniels died in 2004. (Métis Council of Prince Edward Island)

The decision meant all governments in Canada owed Métis and non-status First Nations a fiduciary responsibility and were required to consult with them on a collective basis. 

In the early 1980s Daniels also successfully fought for recognition of Métis and non-status First Nations under section 35 of Canada's Constitution Act.

"I was just so completely, completely, over the moon knowing that, he belongs on that stamp," Storkson said.

"It's just a wonderful, wonderful feeling."

More leaders to be recognized

Two more Indigenous leaders will be featured on stamps released on June 21.

Jose Kusugak, an Inuk politician from Repulse Bay, Nunavut, will be the centre of a stamp unveiling on Tuesday evening in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. 

Kusugak, a defender of Inuit rights, language and culture, died in 2011. 

He was the president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. when that organization led the implementation of the land claim that led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

The second Indigenous person in Saskatchewan to be honoured this year is Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier from Okanese First Nation.

The unveiling of her stamp will be in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., on Wednesday morning.

Day Walker-Pelletier, Canada's longest serving chief, worked as an elected official in Okanese, located roughly 90 kilometres east of Regina, for nearly 40 years. 

First elected in the early 1980s when she was 26-years-old, she previously told CBC News she initially hoped to serve her community for four years. She retired in the summer of 2020.

A former chair of the then-Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, her efforts at home revolved around reuniting Indigenous families with their children in care. She helped the Okanese First Nation define and write its own legislation regarding child and family services.

Day Walker-Pelletier was honoured by the Order of Canada in 2018, Canada's highest civilian honour, awarded to those who went above and beyond in serving their communities. 

'Immortalizing' Indigenous leaders

Canada Post's prairie operations general manager Ben McCutcheon attended Monday's event recognizing Daniels. 

"I look at a postage stamp as more than just a stamp, it's immortalizing those leaders and tells their story," he said.

"It's more than just a picture."

Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, the former chief of Okanese First Nation, will be honoured with a similar stamp on Wednesday in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask. (Courtesy of Treaty 4 News)

Selecting who goes on the stamps takes years, he said, and is decided by a committee. He said Storkson and Indigenous leaders who shared stories about Daniels were among those consulted on his selection.

McCutcheon said the stamps released on June 21 are part of a series from Canada Post commemorating Indigenous leaders and events related to Indigenous history.