Tribute to Arthur Manuel

With a broken heart I must share with you that our beloved brother, Arthur Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation, has passed on to the Ancestors - on to the Spirit World, 11pm, January 11, 2017.

Arthur was a pillar of power, diplomacy, intellect, and knowledge. He served on the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples board of directors for over a decade, and was the coordinator and spokesperson for Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, an SGF affiliate. Arthur will always be remembered as a critical leader of the Indigenous Peoples' global movement for decolonization, empowerment, and self-determination.

Arthur's extraordinary lifetime of dedicated work laid down a framework for action and resilience. Now we must all carry more - Art carried us this far through his example. There is much more work to do.

Below is a message shared by Arthur’s family:

Arthur was the son of Marceline Paul of the Ktuanaxa Nation and George Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation. George was a political leader and visionary who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.

Arthur was born into the struggle and groomed to be a leader and defender of Indigenous rights and title. Coming up as a young leader in the 1970s, he served as president of the National Native Youth Association, leading the occupation of Indian Affairs. He attended Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) and Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto, Ontario).

He returned to his community and was elected Chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee. He was a long-time co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and former co-chair of the Global caucus. He was active in the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More movement and as a board member of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. He was one of the main strategic thinkers of the decolonization movement in Canada. As the spokesman for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, he convinced the World Trade Organization to recognize that Indigenous peoples are subsidizing the BC lumber industry through the non-recognition of Aboriginal title. He was co-author, along with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, of the award-winning Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, with a foreword by his friend and fellow activist Naomi Klein.

He worked selflessly in defense of Indigenous territorial authority and he fiercely opposed any termination of Indigenous land rights. He rejected provincial and federal authority over unceded Indigenous land, and challenged the extinguishment of Indigenous title through the BC treaty process. He fought climate change, battling the imminent threat of pipelines across Secwepemc territory.

He was a world traveler who connected Indigenous nations across the globe to unite in a common vision and defend their rights. He was gifted a button blanket by the Nuxalk nation and has received countless honours for his work around the world.

Arthur was also a teacher and a mentor to many. He was a source of knowledge for youth and young leaders. Through his fierce love for his people, he shone a light on the path to justice for a new generation of activists.

He’s a residential school survivor, having attended the Kamloops (Kamloops BC), St Eugene’s (Cranbrook BC) and St. Mary’s (Mission BC) residential schools.

Arthur is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, by his sisters Emaline, Martha, Doreen, and Ida, his brothers George, Richard, and Ara, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis and Snutetkwe. He is predeceased by his parents, sister Vera, brother Bobby, beloved son Neskie and his grandchildren Napika Amak and Megenetkwe.

In his most recent article on Canada’s 150th celebration, published only a week before his death, Arthur insisted again that Canada was built entirely on the theft of Indigenous lands.

"Our Indian reserves are only .02% of Canada's land and yet Indigenous peoples are expected to survive on them. This has led to the systematic impoverishment of Indigenous people and the crippling oppression that indigenous peoples suffer under the current colonial system.

The .02 land based is used to keep us too poor and too weak to fight back. It is used to bribe and co-opt the Indigenous leadership into becoming neocolonial partners to treat the symptom of poverty on Indian reserves without addressing the root cause of the problem, which is the dispossession of all of the Indigenous territory by Canada and the provinces." – First Nations Strategic Bulletin, August-December 2016 Issue

Condolences to the family and photos of Arthur can be sent to erfeltes@gmail.com.

We all loved our dear brother so much. We all respected him and his dynamic fighting spirit immensely. What a great man. What an example. So strong. 
 
He was a true leader – humble, determined, strong, mindful, dynamic, devoted, assertive, unrelenting – he was a person of thought and of action.
 
Arthur was everything a good leader can be. What we can all strive to be. The power and strength with which Art so honorably held ground and the brilliance with which he led the fight locally, nationally and intercontinentally for Indigenous Peoples' freedom from colonization and toward self-determination is a legacy unmatched by anyone, anywhere.
 
There was simply no one like our brother and beloved leader, Art Manuel. He embodied resilience. He embodied self-determination.
 
Our grief is an ocean of tears. Rest in power dear brother. We know you are on your journey home. We learned from you. You led us. We love you. We will be strong so you can now be at rest. 
 
All Our Relations,
 
Tia Oros Peters
Executive Director

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