OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde offered condolences and prayers to the friends and family of Arthur Manuel, a past Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia and a leading activist and advocate for Indigenous rights, who passed away on January 11, 2017.
National Chief Bellegarde said, “On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, I want to express our deep sadness on the passing of Arthur Manuel, one of our true Indigenous leaders. He held a keen understanding of western law and policy and was firmly grounded in his culture and Indigenous law. An outspoken advocate for First Nations rights in Canada and Indigenous rights around the world, he worked tirelessly to ensure the reality of life for First Nations in Canada was understood, and that the rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples around the world were respected and upheld by the international community. On behalf of the Chiefs in Assembly and the Regional Chiefs of our Executive, I convey our prayers and condolences to his family, friends, community and all those who knew and respected him.”
Arthur Manuel was a recognized leader, respected by First Nations in British Columbia and across the country. Manuel served four terms as Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band and three terms as Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. In 2002, he co-chaired the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee (DISC) to engage the federal government to implement the landmark Delgamuukw decision and changes to the Comprehensive Claims Policy.
Manuel played a significant role in advancing the rights of First Nations on the international stage, working at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and as a key expert and participant at the Convention on Biological Diversity. As Chairman and spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, he was a strong voice speaking to the importance of involving First Nations in all levels of economics and international trade. His writings were published in numerous publications and he authored a number of books.