Dr. Rose Charlie of Sts’Ailes has a long life of achievements to be proud of.
She contributed to the founding of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in 1969, and formed the BC Association of Non-status Indians, now known as the the United Native Nations. She was also behind the formation of National Indian Brotherhood, now the Assembly of First Nations.
And that’s not all.
Charlie was one of a small group to work to change Section 12 of Canada’s Indian Act, resulting in Bill C-31 in 1985. That historic bill overturned the previous decision that native women who wed white men, and their children, would lose their status.
She is truly a force to be reckoned with, and her work on the Indian Homemaker’s Association and its newspaper, The Indian Voice, is to be commended.
And it has been commended, once again. Charlie received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal last week, presented by Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon at a ceremony in Vancouver. This is in addition to accolades such as an honorary Doctor of Law degree from UBC (1989), Governor General’s award (1994), the Order of British Columbia (2003), the Fraser Basin Council’s Doreen Wright award (2003), the National Year of the Child Award, and a certificate of merit from the Government of Canada.
It’s no wonder then, that Charlie was named among the 100 most influential women in the country at one point. A widow of a woodcutter and mother of six children with numerous grandchildren, Charlie and her family have at times scrambled to find travel funds so she can attend ceremonies which honour her.
A totem pole stands in Hope in her honour as well. The totem pole is a canoe with four figures representing “white, red, black and Asian figures,” representing that Charlie has always worked with all cultures.