First Nations leader Wendy Grant-John has worked for more than 30 years to advance the causes of aboriginal peoples. Her activism began when she was very young. After high school in Vancouver and a year of native studies at the Institute in Adult Studies in Victoria and the University of Waterloo, she worked with elders in the Musqueam band to develop a lexicon for the Musqueam dialect of the Salish: Hul’qumi’num language. She also became the coordinator of special needs education and recreation for the Musqueam nation. It was the beginning of many years of work – paid and un-paid – with various organizations to support the education, culture, health and economic well being of aboriginal people and in particular aboriginal youth.
Her activism led her into the political realm. She has served three terms as chief of the Musqueam First Nation and is currently a member of council for the Musqueam Indian Band. She was the first woman in Canada to be elected to the office of regional chief (British Columbia) for the Assembly of First Nations, a post she held for four years. In 1997 she was a close runner-up for the position of national chief with the Assembly. That year, she also attended the University of Northern British Columbia, taking political science and history. Soon after, she became the associate regional director for B.C. in the department of Indian and northern affairs, a position she held until January of this year.
Grant-John has served with numerous boards and commissions, including the Law Society of B.C., the Vancouver Richmond health board, Big Sisters of the Lower Mainland, and the Pacific Salmon Commission. In 2001 she received the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Award for social action. Wendy lives in Vancouver with her husband, Edward John. Wendy has four children and five grandchildren.