Marjorie Cantryn White
Marjorie Cantryn White

Oil on Canvas, 20 x 30, 1983
Marjorie Cantryn-White
1936-
Court judge, Reformer, Leader
Nuu-Chah-Nulth

Marjorie Cantryn White
  • Member of the Ohiaht band from Port Alberni, British Columbia.
  • Founder of the Vancouver Indian Centre.
  • First woman on the Vancouver Police Commission.
  • First aboriginal woman to be appointed Judge in BC.

“I find a lot of the parents are products of residential schools; in those days we were absolutely prohibited to speak our language or practice our culture...[They] lost their heritage at such an early age we no longer really understood our culture and why we were Indian… It’s been difficult for a lot of those parents to really instill any kind of Indian pride in their children.” - Marjorie Cantryn-White

Marjorie Cantryn-White trained as a nurse, but ended up caring for injuries to the spirit and sense of self as well as the body. As a student, Cantryn became aware of the problems that many First Nations young adults had in adapting to an urban setting. Many youth, often with no support system or family and living in a hostile environment, ran into trouble. Cantryn became involved in social work for First Nations immigrants to Vancouver. Elected as President of the Coqualeetza Fellowship at 23, she served for four years, helping to start the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. The centre offered information, cultural programs, education, social services, employment, urban orientation and housing aid, giving people a safe and familiar setting in their new surroundings. Cantryn was the first woman to sit on the Vancouver Police Commissioner's Board and the first First Nations woman elected as a judge in a British Columbia citizenship court. Cantryn continues to be a voice for First Nations people, especially women, in building and sustaining cultural identity in an urban environment.

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