Rights activist and former B.C. chief Arthur Manuel dead at 66

B.C. chief, indigenous rights advocate dies

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia chief and champion of indigenous rights is being remembered for his activism on Canada’s land-claim policies and environmental efforts.

A statement from the family of Arthur Manuel says he died peacefully on Wednesday night surrounded by loved ones. 

Manuel, who was 66, served for many years as chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band in B.C.’s Interior and was a member of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

He also served as chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and as leader and spokesman of the Interior Alliance.

His family says he was born in the struggle of his people and groomed to be a leader and defender of indigenous rights.

A survivor of the residential school system, Manuel went on to complete degrees at Concordia University in Montreal and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip called Manuel one of the country’s strongest and most outspoken indigenous leaders.

Manuel travelled across Canada and around the world in an unwavering effort to advocate for indigenous people, Phillip said in a statement.

His legacy will continue to be felt for generations to come, Phillip said.

Manuel co-authored the book “Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call” chronicling the modern struggle for indigenous rights and titles and laying out a plan for a new, sustainable indigenous economy.

Author and social activist Naomi Klein, who wrote the forward for the book, called Manuel “a beautiful soul and an intellectual giant.”

A friend of Manuel for two decades, Klein said he informed her view of Canada and the world.

In a statement, Klein said Manuel influenced generations of environmental organizers and theorists by helping them understand that honouring indigenous land rights can in turn protect the environment.

She said she had seen him most recently at protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota in December.

But his focus was on environmental issues closer to home.

Klein said Manuel spent his final months organizing efforts to stop the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline which crosses Shuswap territory.

“He helped to lead our movements, and protect the land and water, until his final breath,” Klein said.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark also issued a statement acknowledging Manuel’s legacy of activism and leadership.

She said history would remember Manuel “as one of the first and most-effective advocates of lasting reconciliation.”

His cause of death has not been disclosed.

Manuel is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, by his sisters and brothers, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis and Snutetkwe.

A wake is being arranged for Friday and Saturday at the Adams Lake Indian Band gymnasium in Chase, B.C. A funeral service will be held on Jan. 15.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Dear Santa: the Langley Advance presents local children’s letters to the jolly old elf

During the holidays, the Langley Advance will present letters to Santa. Here is the first selection.

Car fire destroys vehicle in Langley

Firefighters doused a car fire that sent a lot of smoke into the air in Langley.

VIDEO: Hankering for a piece of Star Wars?

A massive Star Wars memorabilia collection is going on the auction block in Langley.

South Surrey shots-fired accused due back in court Jan. 2

Cameron Barton arrested Sept. 25 in White Rock

Cloverdale’s Thunder Colts hockey team raises thousands for Burn Fund

Barbeque event brings in $3,400, donations accepted until Friday, Dec. 15

VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

UPDATED: Train collides with car in Maple Ridge

Mother and child both uninjured, track cleared at 11 a.m.

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Most Read