Elected four times as chief of the Songhees First Nation, Robert Sam is a courageous leader and ambassador for the aboriginal people of southern Vancouver Island. At the treaty table and within the greater community, Chief Sam is a tenacious champion for aboriginal rights and Coast Salish cultural heritage.
Chief Sam has dedicated his life to improving the lives of all Songhees people, serving as a band councillor from the 1960s and as chief since 1996. He is a driving force behind Songhees economic development, establishing good governance on reserve land and reaching out to the community to improve access to education for his people.
Chief Sam's collaborative style has earned a place as a respected political leader in Greater Victoria. He has proven that with a firm moral compass based on strong spiritual beliefs, even a small First Nation can effectively work with all levels of government. Chief Sam's leadership skills were a key factor in the timely and successful negotiations over the removal of reserve land for the B.C. Legislature and a railway line, resolving tensions that reached back more than a century.
Chief Sam leads a community that still struggles with poverty and alienation but his unwavering focus has guided the Songhees people toward a healthier, brighter future. Thanks to Chief Sam's work as a director with British Columbia's aboriginal financial authority, First Nation communities on Vancouver Island and across B.C. also have brighter days ahead through better access to infrastructure funding.
For his service in protecting the dignity, rights and heritage of the Songhees and all aboriginal people, Royal Roads University takes great pleasure in conferring the Chancellor's Community Recognition Award on Chief Robert Sam.