Doug White, B.C. First Nations Justice Council chairperson and Snuneymuxw First Nation member, was named the 2022 recipient of the Advocates’ Society’s Joe Arvay Award. (Submitted photo)

Doug White, B.C. First Nations Justice Council chairperson and Snuneymuxw First Nation member, was named the 2022 recipient of the Advocates’ Society’s Joe Arvay Award. (Submitted photo)

B.C. First Nations Justice Council chairperson from Nanaimo wins national legal award

Doug White, former Snuneymuxw chief, receives Advocates’ Society’s Joe Arvay Award

The chairperson of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council and a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation, Doug White, has won a prestigious legal award.

Announced last month in a press release, White was the chosen recipient of the Advocates’ Society’s Joe Arvay Award. The award recognizes significant contribution to the advancement of the law or the legal profession through advocacy in challenging circumstances and is granted to an individual who is a member of the B.C. Law Society, according to the release.

“Douglas S. White … is leading the way through advocacy and creating meaningful change to improve and reform the current justice system as well as the methods that legal services are delivered to Indigenous people throughout British Columbia,” said Chief Lydia Hwitsum, First Nations Summit political executive, in the release. “His contributions and commitments to the advancement of the First Nations Justice Strategy is a testament to the resiliency, ingenuity, and vision of his leadership.”

In the release, White said he was “humbled and honoured” to be selected. Arvay was one of the country’s great jurists from the last 50 years, with significant contributions to the development of law and successful advocacy for a more just society. Arvay’s accomplishments are a source of inspiration, White said, and he is grateful for the honour.

White, whose Coast Salish name is Kwulasultun and Nuu-chah-nulth name Tliishin, is a practising lawyer and the chief negotiator at Lake Babine Nation, and also co-chairs B.C.’s provincial advisory committee for Indigenous and specialized courts and related initiatives.

“The two main areas that I’ve been part of significantly advancing are driving the Crown towards recognition and implementation of Aboriginal title and self-determination,” White told the News Bulletin.

He continued to say the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples are composed of two major categories: that they have the right to self-determination, and that they have a special relationship with Earth.

“The original legal system of this part of the world were the Indigenous legal orders and traditions of the Indigenous peoples of the country – and fully functioning systems of law being applied over centuries and longer, continuing through to today,” he said. “It’s important for people to know that this isn’t some old ancient thing that might have existed sometime in the distant past. This is a very real legal tradition that carries on and continues and happens every day, every year in Indigenous communities throughout British Columbia.”

White was honoured for the award at the Vancouver Spring into Summer Soirée at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art on June 9.

In 2020, White was also awarded the honourary title of Queen’s Counsel for the province of B.C., a distinction that recognizes Canadian lawyers for exceptional merit and contributions to the legal profession. He will be formally presented the distinction on July 6 in Victoria.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations Justice Council chairman from Nanaimo appointed as Queen’s counsel


mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

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