His Worship Joseph Morrison was a member of Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing (Big Island) First Nation, born on Lake of the Woods in Treaty #3 territory of northwestern Ontario, Canada.
Joe attended Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School and day schools as a child. He enlisted in the Canadian army when he was 17 serving with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (Regular Force) from 1959-62 in Calgary and Germany. He often told young people how the service taught him discipline and gave him a sense of dignity. He also worked as a bookkeeper, fishing guide, street patrol supervisor, and Metis housing coordinator in his early days.
Mr. Morrison retired as a presiding Justice of the Peace (the first to be sworn in with an Eagle feather) in 2007, having served for fifteen years with the Ontario Attorney-General in Kenora. As well he had been involved with Indigenous Friendship Centres at local, provincial and national levels for decades. He learned and shared what he knew about Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language, culture and spiritual teachings most of his life, and was called on often as an Elder and cultural resource in Treaty 3 communities.
A father of eight, with 22 grandchildren and 9 great-children, Joe enjoyed every moment with his family, attending pow-wows, watching First Nations sporting events, and keeping an eye on local politics.
In January 2013, Joseph was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his lifelong dedication to public service and efforts to improve the lives of others. The dedication and memorial ceremony was held at the Lake of the Woods Museum, and included the announcement of the Joseph Morrison Legacy Fund.