After being named to the Order of Canada in 2018, Huu-ay-aht elder Marjorie White received recognition and honour at the Accreditation Ceremony in Quebec on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
“Marjorie White’s wisdom reaches far beyond the Huu-ay-aht First Nation,” Governor General Julie Payette said, as she handed the Order of Canada insignia to the Nuu-chah-nulth elder.
“(It was) exciting,” White explained. “It’s just something you don’t expect.”
White mentioned it’s an honour to be recognized and appreciated by the highest officials of Canada, and how truly rewarding it has been to work for the community for so long.
With decades of volunteer and work experience in the urban areas of Vancouver, White has been a very busy woman.
In 1956 White moved to Vancouver to study nursing. There, with the help of other aboriginal students, they opened up a support centre, the Vancouver Indian Centre Society, the first Friendship Centre in the province. As time went on the idea grew, and there are now 25 Friendship Centers in B.C. and 125 across Canada.
White also founded the Circle of Eagles society in 1970, a culturally sensitive halfway home for prison inmates transitioning into mainstream society. She has extended volunteer experience with Lu’ma Native Housing in Vancouver, the Lu’ma Medical Centre, and the Aboriginal Patients’ Lodge.
White’s other notable achievements include being accredited into the Order of BC, the first aboriginal person appointed to Citizen Court Judge in Canada, and the first woman and aboriginal appointee to the Vancouver Police Commission.
Her goal, White mentions, is to provide a better quality of life for the aboriginal people who move to urban areas, and to make the transition from on-reserve communities to the urban city a little easier.
“There are so many people to thank, I had so much support,” White thanked, noting the support of her daughters, the community, the organizations, as well as the elected officials at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
“I never forgot my teachings,” White said. “I’m proud to be Nuu-chah-nulth, I’m proud to be a Huu-ay-aht member.”