‘The world lost a true champion’

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It is with a heavy heart that Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, on behalf of the 40 First Nations in the Anishinabek Nation, expresses his heartfelt condolences to the family of respected advocate for Indigenous peoples all over Turtle Island, Arthur Manuel, for his passing on January 11, at the age of 66.

“On behalf of the Anishinabek Nation, I want to express the sadness of the loss of such a significant Indigenous advocate and leader,” expressed Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. “The world lost a true champion— a strong voice for the Indigenous people—who fought selflessly in defense of Indigenous rights, but his message will be heard for many generations to come. I send out condolences and prayers during this difficult time to his family, friends, and all those who grieve this loss.”

Arthur Manuel, the son of the late George Manuel, the founder of the National Indian Brotherhood (precursor to the Assembly of First Nations), paved his own way into the world of Indigenous politics starting in his youth as the President of the Native Youth Association. Manuel became a well-respected and recognized leader in British Columbia, having served four terms as Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band and three terms as Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

Manuel was also active in the Assembly of First Nations having co-chaired the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee in 2002.

Manuel, known for being an outspoken advocate deeply grounded in his culture, was also recognized internationally for having advocated for Indigenous rights and issues as co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the United Nations Permanent Forum, as well as the Chairman and spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade.

In addition to his political involvement and Indigenous advocacy, Manuel was the author of the 2016 Canadian Historical Association award-winning book, Unsettling Canada: A National Wake Up Call, Between the Lines, co-written with former Westbank First Nation Grand Chief Ron Derrickson.

Manuel is survived by his life-partner, sisters, brothers, and his children.