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2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Chief Nathan Matthew

Chief Nathan Matthew
Chief Nathan Matthew (Photo courtesy Northwest Indian Fish Commission) Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (6.9mb TIF)

"We have a right to celebrate who we are and to continue to practice our traditions and cultures and determine how we will live. Education is the tool we have to transmit those understandings to future generations."
—Chief Nathan Matthew

Chief Nathan Matthew is honored as a finalist for the 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his work advancing the social, economic, educational and environmental conditions of the Secwepemc people. He is now serving his third term as Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and is currently Chief of the North Thompson Indian Band.

As Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Matthew has worked with other levels of government for recognition of aboriginal rights and title for the Secwepemc people. He has been instrumental in the development of several important Secwepemc organizations including the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission and the Shuswap Cultural Education Society.

During a recent forest fire that burned in and around his community, Matthew played an integral role in coordinating multiple evacuations, security issues and the move home. He also helped his community deal with the aftermath of a long power outage. While his own community was in crisis, Matthew continued to provide support to the entire Shuswap Nation by establishing an emergency center at the Shuswap Tribal Council office. This center provided shelter, food and information for concerned family and friends and governing access through the evacuation.

As a professional educator, Matthew's contributions extend from his community to regional and provincial initiatives. Under his leadership, the first Aboriginal Education Improvement Agreement was developed and implemented in the province of British Columbia. Since 1987, he has directed and instructed a national course at the University of British Columbia entitled Short Course for Principals of First Nation Schools.

For the past eight years, Matthew has chaired the First Nations Education Council in School District No. 73. This council structure was put in place by the provincial government to ensure that First Nations communities and families have a direct voice in education decisions that affect their children.

Matthew also works as a professional consultant with First Nation communities and organizations. Some of his recent professional activities include BC First Nations Post Secondary Institutes Conference moderator, First Nations Community Futures Conference facilitator, Treaty 6 Education Conference keynote speaker and All Nations Trust Strategic Planning facilitator.

Matthew currently serves on the BC First Nations Forestry Advisory Council and the UBC First Nations Forestry Program Advisory Committee. He is also the BC First Nations Representative on the Education Advisory Council to the Minister of Education.

Chief Nathan Matthew currently lives in Barriere, British Columbia, Canada. He received a Master of Education in 1990 from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Recreation Education in 1972.


2003 Honorees

Jeannette Armstrong

Billy Frank, Jr.

Susan Masten

Chief Nathan Matthew

Agnes Pilgrim


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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