Judith Sayers, elected president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, has been appointed to the Order of Canada. She is one of 125 recipients in 2017. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Judith Sayers, Chief Robert Joseph both named officers to the Order

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in Port Alberni and a member of the Hupacasath First Nation, has been named an officer to the Order of Canada.

Sayers is one of two people on Vancouver Island to be honoured with the Order of Canada; she was recognized for her contributions to advancing clean energy projects in her community and for her role as a champion of sustainable development in Indigenous communities. Chief Robert Joseph, of Alert Bay, B.C., hereditary chief of Gwawaenuk First Nation, was named an officer of the Order of Canada for his distinguished pan-Canadian leadership as a voice for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

For Sayers, who has been outspoken about many First Nations rights and resource issues, accepting the Order of Canada brought on a mix of emotions. “Our relationship with Canada is not always a good one,” she said. “It is an honour to be in a crowd of accomplished people. Am I really part of Canada, when we haven’t been able to resolve our issues with the government?

“At the same time, we’re trying to relationship build. I think back when Queens University offered me an honorary doctorate (in the early 1990s). To be an elder is the highest honour. I asked my elders whether I should accept this honour.” Their reply was yes, as it would give her credibility as she continued with her career.

Sayers said in the end, receiving the Order of Canada adds to her credibility as an Indigenous leader. “I’m hoping it’s going to open more doors for me that I can use to help advance the issues, our rights as First Nations people,” she said. “That maybe more people will listen to me and sit down and talk, negotiate, and settle with us.”

There were 125 people from across Canada honoured with the Order of Canada by Governor General Julie Payette on Dec. 29, including 10 others from Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby in British Columbia.

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Sayers and Joseph were two of several Indigenous leaders who were appointed to the Order of Canada this time, and Sayers said that’s a good sign. “It’s recognition that Indigenous people play an important part of making Canada what it is today,” she said.

Indigenous people are making change in different ways. For Fred Sasakamoose of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, it was being the first Indigenous player in the National Hockey League. For Jeanette Corbiere Lavell of Wikwemikong, Ont., Sayers noted, it is how she has made advancements with women and women’s status.

“Letting these kinds of issues play a part in appointments helps to educate Canadians on what kind of work needs to be done, what kind of work has been done and where we go from here.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

 

Just Posted

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

Why Scotch broom makes a great road trip companion

An unexpected detour along the Pacific Marine Circle Route turns into a good thing

Mounties raid “extensive” Vancouver Island pot grow operation

Execution of 3 search warrants has yielded 3 arrests and the seizure of 2,000 marijuana plants

Man brandishes axe during robbery

Mounties were able to locate the suspect within two hours of the incident

Gun, drugs and cash seized in alleged fentanyl dealer arrest

Victoria man Brent Connors faces 9 charges in relation to investigation

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

Happy ending for orphaned bear cubs

Two orphaned bear cubs were captured in Castlegar and sent for rehabilitation.

Most Read