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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley mom calls on government to fund breakthrough diabetes monitoring system

A Comox Valley family is urging the government to provide coverage for… Continue reading

Float-plane crash near Oyster River leaves pilot injured

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from a private property and had no other passengers on board

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson in Courtenay to campaign with Brennan Day

BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson was in Courtenay Tuesday, helping local… Continue reading

Comox Valley Child Development Association introduces Telethon ambassador

Leo Larmand — clad in a headband and multi-colored shorts, standing atop… Continue reading

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Growing food sovereignty at Klemtu

Greenhouse and grow boxes help create circular food economy for Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations

Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

$1.4 billion construction on top of staff raises, single-site work

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Most Read