Past honourees return their snowflakes

At least eight Order of Canada recipients – or their families or inheritors of their legacies – have returned their awards to protest the governor-general giving abortionist Henry Morgentaler Canada’s highest civilian honour.

Among those who have publicly returned their awards are Gilbert Finn, Fr. Lucien Larre and Frank Chauvin. As well, there is Madonna House, which returned the medal of its foundress, Catherine Doherty, as did the family of Alphonse Gerwing. Furthermore, at least three OC recipients have anonymously returned their medals and many more are considering doing so.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews, “I think it is a big mistake to have people turn in their honours back to the governor-general without letting the public know why they are doing it. When they let the public know, then the public sympathizes with the people of honour who have received this award and whose families have received this award and then they start to become more concerned and motivated to do something about the whole thing.”

Hughes also said those publicly returning their OC medals “bring hope to the millions of Canadians who are dismayed by this award to Morgentaler” by the governor-general.

Fr. Larre, founder of the Bosco Homes, a Saskatchewan-based organization operating homes for troubled youth, was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1983. He was the first member of the Order of Canada to announce he was returning his medal. He said awarding Morgentaler the OC was divisive and a “terrible mistake.” He said the award offended those “who really believe in the sanctity of life” and added, “Morgentaler isn’t someone you look up to or someone who inspires you.”

Catherine Doherty was given the OC in 1976 for her work serving the underprivileged, including the founding of the Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ont. She passed away in 1985, but on July 7, the director-general of Madonna House stated, “The awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Morgentaler compels us to protest in the most forceful, peaceful way available to us. Not only do we find his medical practice the dark side of the medical profession, but his inclusion in the awards diminishes them.”

They publicly returned the medal the following day at Rideau Hall, holding a press conference in which the directors said Morgentaler’s work “represents the reverse side of an otherwise bright medal. In our view, through his crusade, the dignity of the person is violently transgressed, justice for the most vulnerable is trampled on, the healing arts are compromised and little faith is shown for the future. Is this really what we want as a nation?”

The siblings of the late Alphonse Gerwing and the Alphonse Charity Foundation unanimously agreed to return the Order of Canada medal he was awarded in 1989 for helping underprivileged youth obtain a post-secondary education. The family stated in a press release they agree with the board of Madonna House and quoted their statement directly.

Former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick (1987-1994) Gilbert Finn announced he, too, was returning his OC. He was made a member in 1974 for his service to the Acadian community and was promoted to officer in 1979.

He told the Moncton Times-Transcript, “If Dr. Morgentaler becomes a member, the Order of Canada for me has decreased in value.” And the former president of the Université de Moncton told Radio-Canada, “That since Dr. Morgentaler is now a member of the order, I’m returning my insignia and no longer want to be part of the order.”

Finn said he was waiting until Morgentaler actually physically receives his OC before returning his own, although he has communicated his intention to both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor-General Michaelle Jean.

Retired Police Detective Frank Chauvin told the Windsor Star of his intention to return his Order of Canada decoration, saying: “Yes, it’s definitely going. I don’t want to be painted with the same brush as Morgentaler. It’s definitely going back.” Chauvin was bestowed with the OC in 1987 for his work with the poor, both at home and abroad, including founding an orphanage in Haiti. “It’s a bittersweet decision,” said Chauvin. “It was a wonderful thing to have obtained … But it’s gotta go.”

Meanwhile, James Love, a former United Church minister, has launched the website to encourage members of the OC to return their medals. Love encourages OC members to reject their “medals which have been tarnished with the inclusion of one of Canada’s worst examples, Henry Morgentaler.” He says, “This symbolic act will encourage many others to stand up for a culture of life in Canada and embolden a new generation to live lives of service and sacrifice for others, especially the next generation and those who have yet to be conceived.”

Love says he got the idea for the project when Rabbi Yehuda Levin told that the OC “should more aptly be called the ‘Disorder of Canada,’ because it’s a terrible reflection on a country that can honour a person based on his … self-professed elimination of 100,000 preborn children.”

– Paul Tuns

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