JANUARY 14, 1961

GERTRUDE GUERIN BECAME FIRST WOMAN CHIEF OF MUSQUEAM BAND IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Born in 1917, to the Squamish First Nation in Mission, British Columbia (BC), Gertrude married into the Musqueam First Nation in 1936 and moved to the Musqueam community in 1953 where she began advocacy work and became its first female chief.  Supporting education, in 1967, she helped establish the Native Education College.  Guerin also helped found the Vancouver Police, the Native Liaison Society & Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society.  In the 1980s, she helped sue the federal government of Canada over leasing prime Musqueam Vancouver land to a private golf club.  In 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada, in R v. Guerin [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335, upheld a lower court award of $10 million finding that Canada breached its fiduciary duty under the Royal Proclamation of 1763.  This landmark decision established that Aboriginal title was unique and inalienable.  Guerin died in 1998.  In October 2006, the BC government recognized her posthumously with an award for her work on behalf of Indigenous rights.

Source:  Amanda Robinson, “Gertrude Guerin,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 5/4/2017.  Retrieved 8/21/2019, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/gertrude-guerin
Photo:  Gordon F. Sedawie, 1/6/1961.  Public Domain.  Courtesy of Vancouver Public Library, 44666

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