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Portrait of Judge Alfred Scow
Judge Alfred Scow

Oil on Canvas, 28 x 34, 1984
Judge Alfred Scow
1927- 2013
Lawyer, Activist

Judge Alfred Scow
  • Born in Alert Bay, British Columbia.
  • Member of the Gilford Island band.
  • First Aboriginal person to be called to the Bar in British Columbia.
  • Judge Provincial Court in Coquitlam, BC
  • Founded Scow Institute for Communicating Information on Aboriginal Issues

“We used to have movies every two weeks in the early part of my schooling at the residential school and we often had cowboy and Indians. As children often do when they are together, we re-enacted some of the more dramatic scenes of the movie and of course, we played cowboys and Indians. Everybody wanted to be a cowboy; no one wanted to be an Indian. The trauma of those times caused psychological blocks for many, but then many rose above it all and accomplished much in their lives.” - Judge Alfred Scow

Judge Alfred Scow started his journey in a fishing boat off Gilford Island. From the age of six he was a fisherman, and at 15, an entrepreneur with his own boat. During university, Scow financed his education as a crewman on halibut and salmon boats. Scow was the first British Columbia First Nations graduate of law school, earning his degree from the University of British Columbia in 1961. From there he ascended rapidly, serving as the first First Nations member of the Bar and appointee to the Bench of the B.C. Provincial Court, where he served for 23 years. He was an advocate for personal advancement, serving as the first President of the Vancouver Indian Centre and helping establish the First Nations House of Learning. For his service and excellence, he received an honorary Doctorate of Law from UBC (1997) and was named a Member of the Order of Canada (2000). He also received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and several other awards of local and national recognition. Judge Scow founded the Scow Institute for Communicating Information on Aboriginal Issues to fill a need for understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. He serves as a role model for First Nations men and women in law today, and encourages First Nations people to educate themselves for personal and community advancement.

For more information about First Nations in B.C., resources available at UBC, or information about these individuals, visit the Resources section.

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