RACHEL STERN / The News Bulletin                                Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White, left, talks with Judith Guichon, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, after receiving her insignia of Member of the Order of Canada at a ceremony at Dufferin Place Friday (March 31).
Bad Video Embed Code

RACHEL STERN / The News Bulletin Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White, left, talks with Judith Guichon, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, after receiving her insignia of Member of the Order of Canada at a ceremony at Dufferin Place Friday (March 31).

UPDATED: Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White given insignia of Member of Order of Canada

White recognized for decades of work including efforts preserving Hul’q’umi’num language

Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White is a Member of the Order of Canada.

She received her insignia during a special ceremony in Nanaimo March 31. Her induction into the order was announced in December.

White was recognized for her more than seven decades of work. At a young age, she campaigned to have electricity connected to her reserve and to have programs to better prepare aboriginal school children for the public school system. She wrote several books on Coast Salish beliefs and practices and created the first dictionary of the Hul’q’umi’num language. As an elder in Vancouver Island University’s native studies program, she helped build bridges between aboriginal peoples and the community.

White received her insignia from B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, on behalf of David Johnston, governor general of Canada, during a ceremony at Dufferin Place.

“The legacy that you have left us, Ellen, goes far beyond the written word and the dictionaries of Hul’q’umi’num language,” said Guichon during the ceremony. “The legacy is one of the bridges you have built, based on such strong foundations of love. You are a pioneer and an engineer, for through your love you have forged a pathway that all of us may follow, a pathway to healthy inclusive communities.”

Guichon said White worked her whole life to achieve a better country and improve the lives of all Canadians.

“Thank you so much for seven decades of leadership,” said Guichon.

Doug White III, a Snuneymuxw councillor and Ellen’s grandson, said a few words on her behalf during the ceremony.

“She’s always said to me as I’ve been growing up, you always go out and you seek and you look for expertise. You look for knowledge. You show respect for people who have suffered long and hard to gather up knowledge and experience and you ask for them to share with them what they know,” said Doug White. “You must always reach and seek to have the knowledge of our people in one hand and the knowledge of the west in the other and have them in balance if you are going to be a full person in this part of the world now. In the Coast Salish world, in what is now Canada, that our people need to hold both bodies of knowledge and mutual respect and use them together in powerful ways for the betterment of the country.”

He said his grandmother was not allowed to attend the nearby residential school and was raised with the teachings of her people, thanks to her grandmother. She used these teachings for the betterment of aboriginal peoples. Ellen White was instrumental in a historic moment in Canada during the 1960s when Clifford White and David Bob were arrested for hunting deer out of season.

“This is a very historic moment in Canada when Canada began its process of really beginning to look into what are aboriginal rights what are treaty rights,” said Doug White, adding that his grandmother advocated on their behalf as a translator in long houses in Coast Salish communities.

He said as an elder, Ellen White, shared stories about aboriginal peoples to Canadians and people around the world.

“This is one of the most important projects in our country right now, in the shadow of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was very much a manifestation of that same idea grandma has embraced throughout her life which is you must find ways for Canadians to know about who the indigenous peoples of this country are in a real way, we must write these stories down,” said Doug White.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo city council voted unanimously Monday to pass a bylaw establishing the foundation for a new downtown business improvement association. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo adopts bylaw to create new downtown business improvement association

Chamber of commerce says next steps will be a board of directors and five-year strategic plan

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district teachers’ union, and its counterparts from Mount Arrowsmith district, seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator Mark Jonah probes the scene of a blaze that destroyed two apartments on Sunday, April 18. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: RCMP say Wakesiah Avenue fire was arson, suspect has been arrested

35-year-old man arrested for allegedly starting fire lived in the complex

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

The City of Nanaimo will further investigate an initiative to set up two 12-cabin sites to create transitional emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness. (Black Press file photo)
City of Nanaimo will ask for expressions of interest to operate tiny cabin sites

Staff expresses concern about workload, councillor says sheltering people must take priority

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Most Read