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A Tribute to a Unique Moment in History

Oil on Canvas, 22 x 36, 1984

Chief James Gosnell
1924-1988
Nisga’a
Chief Joe Mathias, T’echuxánm Siyám
1942-2000
Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish)
Bill Wilson, Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla
1944-
Kwawkgewth/Musgamagw
First Nations rights advocates

A Tribute to a Unique Moment in History

“These three men represent the contribution made by the [Aboriginals] in the clarification of the Aboriginal rights clause in the new Canadian Constitution.  This was the first time that [First Nations] people had, through invitation, appeared on the floor of the House of Commons.” - Patricia Richardson Logie

 

James Gosnell, hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation; Joe Mathias, called T’echuxánm Siyám, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation and Bill Wilson, called Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla, hereditary chief of the Musgamagw tribe of the Kwakiutl Nation, appear together here. Logie honoured them as leaders of their people, political forces for social justice and land title, strong orators and advocates. Chief Gosnell and Chief Mathias have died, but their legacy remains and their contribution to their own nations and First Nations rights in Canada improved many lives. Chief Gosnell was a protector of his people and their rights, and is known as “the father of Aboriginal title” for his perseverance and steadfastness in the pursuit of justice. His work for the Nisga’a is honoured. Chief Mathias took two years of law courses to better understand the challenges and legal opportunities available to the Squamish Nation. He was dedicated to First Nations self-improvement, self-government and land claims, and pursued social justice and economic well-being for his people. Bill Wilson inherited the name Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla from his maternal grandfather, which means "the Chief who is always there to help" and "the first rank among the eagles." Wilson has served as an officer for a number of national First Nations councils and societies, and continues to work as a treaty negotiator.

 

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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