The Role of an Elder

Practice Point

The Role of an Elder

November, 2019

COQUITLAM INDIGENOUS EDUCATION STUDENTS INTERVIEWED ELDER DAWN BROWN for the inaugural issue of The Canoe, published in February 2016 by the Indigenous Education Department of School District #43. Read “An Interview with Elder Dawn” on page 10.

Folks at Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (ICT) blogged in 2014 on “First Nation Elder Protocol” and in 2012 provided a definition of Aboriginal Elder while answering questions people ask them in their “Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples”™ workshops.

After winning the first Canadian declaration of Aboriginal title at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014, the Tsilhqot’in National Government said, ”The success of this case was based on the courage of our Elders and the strength of the culture and stories.”

Said McLachlin C.J.C. for a unanimous SCC in that case, while upholding the findings of Vickers J. at trial, “The trial judge considered this direct evidence of more recent occupation alongside archeological evidence, historical evidence, and oral evidence from Aboriginal elders, all of which indicated a continuous Tsilhqot’in presence in the claim area.”

Vickers J., in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 1700, had written (at para. 158) that “recognition by elders of their role to relate oral history to the young” was among the “subtle and intricate system of cultural checks related to the transmission of oral history” upon which John Dewhirst, a cultural anthropologist, gave opinion evidence and upon which the court relied.

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We acknowledge that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.