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Raymond Taavel to Receive Posthumous Diamond Jubilee Medal

Jake Cormier for local2 sault ste. marie
October 17th, 2012 at 1:21pm | Last Updated at 1:24pm

Raymond TaavelOne more Sault Ste. Marie native will be receiving a Diamond Jubilee Medal, it was announced last week.

Each MP across the country was given 30 medals to award. Halifax MP Megan Leslie turned the job over to a volunteer committee, which called for nominations from the community. Raymond Taavel was nominated by several people.

Taavel was a well-respected and admired community, political and gay rights activist based in Halifax. He was key leader in the development of Halifax’s pride parade, an active charity fundraiser and bridge-builder between the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community and wider society. He was also a man with a deep faith in God who loved his family and cared deeply for his friends.

His violent murder six months ago outside a bar shocked Halifax and sent ripples across the country. In the hours that followed the murder, a makeshift memorial was established near the bar and hundreds of people crowded the street to comfort each other and quietly remember Ray.
Known as "an activist without anger", his work, his caring demeanour and smiling face were remembered widely in nation-wide news coverage for several days.  He was also honoured and remembered with speeches and a moment of silence in the Nova Scotia legislature.

Darren Lewis, Taavel's partner of ten years, learned Thursday afternoon that the 49 year old activist would receive the posthumous honour at a ceremony later this fall.  The first thing he did was call Ray's family in the Sault.

"We're delighted to learn that Ray will be receiving a Diamond Jubilee Medal," said his brother, Andre Taavel.  "Ray left a tremendous legacy in Halifax, and this posthumous honour is a wonderful tribute to him."

Andre and his family had never been to Halifax, so they traveled there in July to meet and spend time with Ray's friends and old coworkers, and to see the city that Ray loved.

"It was an emotional visit," said Andre, "but to know that my brother was surrounded by such wonderful, caring people every day was a big comfort to our family."

"Again, with this medal, we are completely blown away by the people of Halifax and Nova Scotia, for honouring and loving our son and brother as much as we do.  Thank you so much."

The presentation ceremony for Raymond's Diamond Jubilee Medal will be on November 13th in the ballroom of Government House with the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia presenting on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. Darren Lewis will be accepting the medal on Raymond's behalf. Raymond's name will reside in the country's system of honours at Rideau Hall in Ottawa forever as one of the great Canadians of his time.


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