For 35 years, Chief Andy Thomas has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Esquimalt First Nation people. He is a model and pillar of the community, dedicated to promoting land rights, health, education and economic progress for all aboriginal people, while preserving the ancient Coast Salish culture.
As a hereditary chief, Andy Thomas is continuing his family's proud legacy of service and leadership from time immemorial. Chief Thomas grew up in an era of residential schools, persistent aboriginal poverty, and governmental policies of neglect, but has stood fast as a leader with wisdom, temperance and conviction.
Chief Thomas has helped give a voice and representation to aboriginal people across B.C. and Canada. He was involved in creating the structure for what is now the Assembly of First Nations, and has worked with many aboriginal and non-aboriginal organizations to advocate for improvements in health, education and employment.
Chief Thomas leads a community that still struggles with poverty and alienation, but his determined focus has eased the hardships of the Kosapsum people. His guidance has ushered in new economic opportunities for skills training and employment. Most recently, his knowledge of aboriginal land rights and the Douglas treaty led to a fair and beneficial settlement of the B.C. Legislature grounds, which had been expropriated from reserve land more than 150 years ago.
For his service in protecting the dignity, rights and heritage of the Esquimalt Nation and all aboriginal people, and for reaching out to the community of Victoria, Royal Roads University takes great pleasure in conferring the Chancellor's Community Recognition Award on Chief Andy Thomas.