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The Council of Canadians mourns the passing of Art Manuel

The Council of Canadians extends our thoughts and prayers to Art Manuel’s family and friends and to the Neskonlith and Secwepemc Nation.

The 66-year-old father of five and defender of Indigenous Peoples’ Title and Rights grew up on the Neskonlith Reserve and is the son of political leader George Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation and Marceline Paul of the Ktuanaxa Nation. In his youth, he experienced residential schools in Kamloops, Cranbrook and Mission.

He attended Osgoode Hall Law School, was elected Chief of his community four times, was the elected chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and was a spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade.

Council of Canadians Board member and Indigenous rights activist Qwalqwalten John says, “We have lost a powerful voice. This is a huge loss for the defense of lands and water where Indigenous title can be utilized to protect resources.”

Manuel also participated in our ‘Water for People and Nature’ conference in July 2001 in Vancouver. Council of Canadians Maude Barlow noted, “An Indigenous caucus led by Chief Arthur Manuel of the Interior Alliance of British Columbia brought First Nations peoples from around the world to support one another and to form common strategies in their fight to preserve their ancestral water rights. This caucus endorsed an Indigenous peoples’ Declaration of Water, which is now being circulated around the world.”

In April 2015, Manuel co-authored the book Unsettling Canada, A National Wake Up Call with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson.

The promotion for that book says, “Arthur Manuel is one of the most forceful advocates for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada and comes from the activist wing of the movement. Grand Chief Ron Derrickson is one of the most successful Indigenous businessmen in the country. Together the Secwepemc activist intellectual and the Syilx (Okanagan) businessman bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to Canada’s most glaring piece of unfinished business: the place of Indigenous peoples within the country’s political and economic space.”

His writings are particularly important this year.

He recently wrote, “2017 will mark the fact that we have been officially colonized by Canada for 150 years. This is an important milestone and it is time for us to decide if we want to continue to be colonized peoples or if we want to seek self-determination. We have to face the fact that Canada is a settler state that was created by Great Britain to take over our Indigenous territories for use and benefit of Canada.”

The CBC News report on his passing can be read here, the Metro News article is here, and the APTN report is here. An interview with his sister on CBC Radio’s As It Happens this evening can be heard here.