Okanagan band member receives Order of B.C.

Vernon-born Len Marchand, 81, is one of 25 people named to the Order of B.C.

Len Marchand

Len Marchand

An Okanagan Indian Band member is receiving B.C.’s highest honour.

Vernon-born Len Marchand, 81, is one of 25 people named to the Order of B.C.

“These recipients exemplify the positive difference one  person can make in a community and are an inspiration to all British  Columbians,” said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.

An agronomist by trade, Marchand became an aboriginal leader early on and in 1968, was the first and only First Nations person to be elected to the House of  Commons from B.C. He was elected three times in the Kamloops riding.

In Ottawa, he was appointed as a parliamentary secretary, as a minister of  state and as minister of the environment in the Trudeau government.

After being appointed to the Senate, he continued to advocate for justice for all First Nations in Canada. He remained in the Senate until 1998.

Marchand, who grew up at Six Mile Creek, was the first aboriginal person to graduate from public secondary school in Vernon,

In addition to his public service, he also helped establish one of B.C.’s first aboriginal drug and alcohol treatment centres.

“He is a tremendous example to First Nations for his trailblazing career and an example to all of us,” states a provincial government release.

“He strived to make Canada a better place at a time when he was basically alone in institutions that did not include First Nations in their considerations. He was not deterred by racism, prejudice or other obstacles.”

Marchand will receive the Order of B.C. during a ceremony Nov. 6.