Former Musqueam chief Ernie Campbell dies
One of the most influential aboriginal chiefs ever elected in the Lower Mainland has died.
Ernie Campbell, who headed the Musqueam First Nation for 14 years, passed away yesterday.
According to a biography on the Musqueam website, he was first elected as a councillor in 1969. He served three terms as chief in the 1980s, and another eight years as chief in the 2000s before retiring last year.
A former residential-school student, he graduated from Magee secondary school and was a former boxing champion. He chaired the Musqueam Fisheries Commission, was chief negotiator and main spokesperson for the band, and "was extensively involved in all aspects of the Musqueam Band business for many years".
"I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Chief Ernie Campbell," Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement from his office. "I had the honour of working with Chief Campbell to bring Musqueam and Vancouver city council closer together than ever before, and will never forget our time together hosting the 2010 Winter Games."
Robertson also called Campbell "a thoughtful, determined leader who helped build bridges and foster greater understanding between all cultures".
"I had great respect for how he conducted himself and always enjoyed our conversations," he added "My deep condolences go out to his family, his friends and the Musqueam people."
During his tenure, Campbell was a forceful advocate for his people. He advocated taking a hard line on land leases, which upset some homeowners. Others viewed this as Campbell's way of trying to generate a reasonable return for the band.
In 2008, the Musqueam people ratified a deal that provided $250 million in land and cash in return for more than 20 hectares of Pacific Spirit Park. It came after a protracted dispute over the University Golf Club.
Campbell was also chief during much of a bitter battle between the Musqueam and Century Group over a proposed development in Marpole. This year, the two sides reached an agreement to preserve the site, which includes aboriginal remains.
"In a city of millions, Chief Campbell stood tall," Premier Christy Clark declared in a statement issued by her office. "His strong voice and unswerving leadership ensured the concerns of his people remained at the forefront through issues that could have divided us. Whether it was aboriginal land and fishing rights or hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Chief Campbell always ensured his people were heard and always conducted himself with dignity."
Ernie Campbell appears in the video below, which was created in 2010 for the Musqueam First Nation by Gryphon Productions.