BARRY’S BAY, Ontario, 18 February, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canadian Member of Parliament Cheryl Gallant presented co-founder and editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal yesterday for his “lifetime of work in the area of encouraging life, promoting life”.
“John-Henry Westen was nominated for his work on behalf of the pro-life community,” said Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) to LifeSiteNews.com in an interview after the ceremony which took place after Sunday Mass at St. Hedwig Church in Barry’s Bay, Ontario.
“He does a lot of work and, in his role, he also takes a lot of criticism and takes a lot of arrows. It was very important for him to know, and for the entire community to know, that what he does is appreciated and formally recognized.”
When LifeSiteNews asked Gallant what awarding the medal to a pro-life activist signifies for the unborn in Canada, she said: “It’s also going to encourage the work that John-Henry Westen is doing”.
The Diamond Jubilee Medal commemorates the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada. To celebrate the anniversary, the Governor General of Canada is awarding 60,000 medals that honor Canadians for “significant contributions and achievements”. Members of Parliament and Senators were each given 30 medals to bestow on worthy candidates. Partner organizations, such as Real Women of Canada, were also granted a similar number of medals with which to honor deserving people.
During the presentation of the medal Gallant called LifeSiteNews.com “the most popular life and family news service on the internet” and “an essential tool for pro-life and pro-family leaders around the world”.
“And I know my colleagues in Parliament regularly look-in to see what is happening in the aspect of life news,” she said.
Westen said that the medal came as a complete surprise and that he thought “they must have got the wrong person”.
Westen received the medal on behalf of his wife Dianne and their eight children, “without whom nothing is possible for me”, on behalf of the entire LifeSiteNews.com team, “who are really the ones who should be receiving this”, and on behalf of Managing Director Steve Jalsevac, “who has been doing this [pro-life] work thirty years longer than me.”
Westen said that any honor and glory attached to the award really belongs to God since, as a man who has consecrated himself and all that he does to the Lord, any good that has been accomplished has come from the hand of God.
“All for the greater glory of God,” he said.
This is not the first time the Diamond Jubilee Medal has been awarded to life and family advocates. Pro-life heroines Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner also received Diamond Jubilee medals last October for their “faithful battle for justice for pre-born children”. The women were nominated for the award by pro-life MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin).
Westen called it “truly amazing” that MPs who “respect life and family” have nominated pro-life activists throughout Canada for the award as a way of “honor[ing] the country in a very real way.”
He pointed out that honoring pro-life activists in this way gives a voice not only to the unborn, but also to the many pro-life Canadians who feel that they have no voice in Canadian politics.