Kennedy has become an outspoken champion for the rights of sexual abuse victims since coming forward in the 1990s about his own abuse by former junior hockey coach Graham James.
Harper was in Calgary to hand out 180 of the medals, which were created in honour of the Queen's 60th anniversary on the throne this year.
He praised the recipients for going above and beyond to serve their communities.
The prime minister said it takes courage and personal sacrifice to perform tasks that are often considered thankless.
"Service comes in many forms, but inevitably it requires vision and perseverance," he said. "Through this medal program, we have been reminded just how widely spread these precious qualities are throughout our great land."
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