Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White has been named to the Order of Canada.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston made the announcement Friday that White, or Kwulsaulwut (Many Stars) had been appointed to the order “for her work as an elder and community leader, and for her efforts to preserve the Hul’qumi’num language,” according to a press release.
White was recognized for her role as a Coast Salish cultural leader, grounded in the traditional teachings she received from her grandmother Mary Rice, among others.
At a young age, with several of her cousins, her training and teaching in Coast Salish knowledge began. She was taught to be a midwife and helped to deliver a baby for the first time at the age of nine. She was also taught about traditional medicines, spirituality, and ceremony.
In the middle of her life, she went to the University of Victoria to study linguistics to equip herself with the tools needed to work to help to preserve and share the Hul’qumi’num language.
“The entire family is extremely honoured for the recognition that has been bestowed upon our mother by the Governor General for her lifetime of work and service to the First Nations community and also to the non-First Nations community,” said her son, Doug White, Jr., a councillor with Snuneymux First Nation. “My mother has done significant work that has helped to build understandings between First Nations and non-First Nations people – this includes the publishing of multiple books of Coast Salish stories and her political work and advocacy that has helped to establish good working relationships and improved quality of life by securing essential services such as water and electricity for our community.”