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

Sean Smyth is expected to be announced the winner of the municipal by-election for city council today. Photo provided
Sean Smyth to replace Babchuk on council

Sean Smyth is expected to be named the winner of the 2021… Continue reading

Piano and music.
Rotary Honours Concert goes virtual for 2021

The show must go on. But this year the free “gift to… Continue reading

The Coast Range makes a spectacular backdrop for orca heading towards Discovery Passage of Campbell River Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Frank Neil
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
MP Blaney invites feds to establish B.C.’s economic development agency on Vancouver Island

Citing the recent economic challenges faced by her riding, the MP says there’s no region more fitting of this mandate

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

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

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
UPDATED: Poster popping up in Island communities falsely claiming COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

Most Read