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Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, Gay rights activist, receives Canada 's highest civilian honor
Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, Gay rights activist, receives Canada 's highest civilian honor
The Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, Gay activist and senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, was invested as a member of the Order of Canada on February 22.

The Order of Canada is Canada 's highest civilian honor. Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation. Over the last 40 years, more than 5,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.

"To my knowledge, Rev. Dr. Hawkes is the only person to receive their country's highest honor in recognition of their Gay activism," said Douglas Elliott, founding president of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association.

Rev. Dr. Hawkes has been a champion of human rights and social justice for decades, and is a leading advocate in the struggle for equality of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons. A man of fearless conviction, he presided over Canada's first legal wedding of a same sex couple - also the first in the world - and has continued to call for tolerance, understanding and respect for all Canadians. Rev. Dr. Hawkes has previously been honored with the City of Toronto 's Award of Merit, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the United Nations Toronto Association Global Citizen Award and the YMCA Peace Medal.

The following is an open letter from Rev. Nancy L. Wilson of the Metropolitan Community Church:

I am pleased to join with people of goodwill everywhere in extending my warmest best wishes to Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes on the occasion of his investiture today into the Order of Canada.

The Order of Canada is the highest civilian national honor that can be awarded in Canada. It honors those who have made a recognizable and lasting contribution to Canadian society and is awarded in the name of Queen Elizabeth II, who serves as Sovereign of the Order, by Canada's Governor General, the Queen's representative in the country.

Brent's investiture into the Order of Canada is truly historic. Douglas Elliott, founding president of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association and a long-time friend of Metropolitan Community Churches, noted, "To my knowledge, Rev. Dr. Hawkes is the only person to receive their country's highest honor in recognition of their Gay activism."

I especially love Brent's comment to the press when informed of his selection - a statement that resonates with all people who have done the long, hard work of justice: "It's amazing. My head's spinning a bit. I'm used to picketing governments and taking them to court!"

It has been my honor to count Brent as an MCC colleague and friend for more than 30 years. I've observed firsthand that his deep and abiding spiritual faith has been the wellspring for his passionate work on behalf of human rights. He has spent a lifetime challenging the government of Canada, and in doing so has repeatedly proven his love and loyalty to the ideals of Canada, as well as the ideals of his spiritual faith.

Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes is a hero for Canada, and his work continues to inspire a new generation of activists around the globe.

Indeed, our world is a better and more hopeful place, thanks to his life, his activism, and his ministry.

A Metropolitan Community Church press release

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