A legacy from Arctic Quebec to Vancouver Island’s west coast: Nuu-chah-nulth remember former treaty manager Victor Pearson | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

A legacy from Arctic Quebec to Vancouver Island’s west coast: Nuu-chah-nulth remember former treaty manager Victor Pearson

Port Alberni, BC

It has been more than 20 years since Vic Pearson, the affable man with the slight English accent, last occupied an office at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council building, but his long service to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht back then and even years later is being remembered by those that fortunate enough to know him.

Vic Pearson was 84 when he passed away on September 1, 2023.

According to his online obituary, he was born in Birmingham, England.

“Vic arrived in Arctic Quebec in 1957 to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company, becoming fluent in the Inuktitut language,” reads the tribute. 

It is not clear when, exactly, Pearson joined the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. The records don’t go back that far. But former staff members recall he started as a financial advisor for the Nuu-chah-nulth nations before being appointed executive director.

In 1995, when the Nuu-chah-nulth nations initiated the treaty process, Vic was appointed to the role of NTC’s treaty manager, where he remained until 2001.

“Vic was a hardworking, intelligent, and dedicated person,” said NTC President Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers. “He worked closely with all 14 nations, working to build the capacity at the NTC. He also valued the rights, titles, and values of the Nuu-chah-nulth.”

His obituary says Vic avoided the limelight and worked tirelessly for the people.

“He was honoured to be part of the historic land claims agreement for the Nuu-chah-nulth nations,” said his obituary. “He enjoyed contract and consulting work while travelling abroad and enjoying life through the early 2000s.”

After retiring from the NTC, Pearson worked on contract for Nuu-chah-nulth nations negotiating treaties. He worked closely with the Maa-nulth treaty nations up until the final agreement was implemented in 2011.

“As treaty manager he ensured all the work was getting done to prepare for negotiations at the table with governments,” said Sayers. “He kept good relations with the federal and provincial governments to ensure negotiations would move forward.” 

She went to say that Pearson stood with the Nuu-chah-nulth through hard times and losses, offering everything he could.

“He was also there to celebrate victories and progress over the many years,” said Sayers. 

For Tseshaht Elected Chief Ken Watts, Vic was one of the kindest men he ever knew, “not just personally, but professionally,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Watts first met Pearson decades ago when his father, late Wahmeesh, George Watts, would take him to work meetings.

“I always remember Vic busy running around getting things done for the NTC but also recall how much respect everyone had for Vic around the table,” he recalled.

But the connection between the Pearson and Watts family went beyond the work place.  

“Vic was connected to my family through my late father, and we spent many great weekends together over the years at an annual campout my late father organized,” shared Watts.

Vic and his wife Judy would cook breakfast for everyone at the campout. Watts recalls what a great cook Vic was and how people just enjoyed being in his company.

“Not only was Vic connected and respected by nations on the west coast, but he was a kind and caring individual who was also very intelligent. I can recall him and my father not only talking about work but issues around the world,” said Watts. 

Married in 1966, Pearson leaves his wife Judy and their three children, Jeremy, Jennifer, and Eleanor (Dave), along with their six grandchildren.

“Vic played a major role in the tribal council for many years, and he is well remembered by many,” Sayers said. 

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