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2006 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Finalist: Chief Judith Sayers

Judith Sayers
Judith Sayers - Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (1.3mb JPG)

Chief Judith Sayers, Kekinusuqs, (Nuu-chah-nulth) is an honored 2006 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for her contributions to aboriginal rights, treaty settlements, a sustainable future and equal rights for First Nation women. Chief Sayers has successfully worked to improve the economic, cultural, environmental and social conditions of the Hupacasath First Nation and helped move regional issues to the national stage. She currently resides in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada.

Hupacasath First Nation first elected Chief Sayers in 1995. As Chief, she oversees the political, administrative and economic development of the Hupacasath First Nation. Chief Sayers has been proactive in improving her people's economic condition by developing partnerships with government and business. She has also served as the Chief Negotiator for the Hupacasath First Nation since 1993 in the British Columbia treaty process.

Under her leadership, the Hupacasath First Nation has developed a land use plan, community energy plan, cultural programming and Hupacasath language programs which has now produced seven books. Chief Sayers has worked to reduce green house gases through development of green energy, restore salmon populations and habitat, and preserve old growth ecosystems to help ensure a more sustainable future for her people.

Chief Sayers practiced law for Sayers and Associates from 1991 to 2001. From 1982 to 1990, she practiced law with Littlechild and Associates in Hobbema, Alberta and had her own firm in Edmonton. Her primary focus was on treaty rights as well as international and constitutional law. Chief Sayers also worked with the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples and other UN specialized agencies.

In addition to working on treaty issues, Chief Sayers has also worked towards equal rights for First Nation women. She has written about the negative effects of colonization on aboriginal women's roles within governing structures today. Chief Sayers has made recommendations to policy makers, legislators and negotiators on what they can do to ensure that First Nation women have equal participation in governance.

Chief Sayers is currently President of Upnit Power Corporation Green Energy Project. Since 2002, she has served as a Board member of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chief Sayers is a founding Board member and Co-Chair for the Island Corridor Foundation that owns the Island Rail Corridor. She is also a Board member of Tsu-ma-uss Transformation Society, which is a Hupacasath First Nation tourism project in its development stage.

In 1981, Chief Sayers received a Law Degree from the University of British Columbia. She also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Queen's University in 1993 for her work in International and Constitutional Law. Chief Sayers received the Bora Laskin Fellowship on Human Rights in 1990.


2006 Honorees


Harold Gatensby

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Tawna Sanchez

Chief Judith Sayers


Learn More

About Chief Judith Sayers:

Chief Judith Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation on proposed Port Alberni Generation Project, squalk.com, June 5, 2001

BC Hero - Hupacasath Chief Judith Sayers, Dogwood Initiative, Dec. 14, 2005

Democracy Debated - Interview with Judith Sayers, CBC archives, April 25, 2002

Choo-Kwa challenges champion canoes, West Vancouver Island Aquatic Mgmt Board, July 2, 2004


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


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