Chancellor's Community Recognition Award
Seenupin, known as Chief Andy Thomas, has been the hereditary leader of the Esquimalt First Nation for more than 35 years.
Chief Thomas was born and raised in the Esquimalt Nation lands near the Township of Esquimalt. As a role model for the community, Chief Thomas is described as a humble, devoted promoter of land rights, health and education for his people. He attended Camosun College for small business administration.
Nationally and provincially, Chief Thomas helped develop the structure of the overarching Assembly of First Nations. He has worked with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council in the executive and as the land claims chairman. He also supports the B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Society and sits on the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
For the Esquimalt Nation, Chief Thomas has helped guide business ventures and economic development with the Kasapsum Development Corporation, including acquiring the West Bay Marina properties. He is credited with keeping the Esquimalt Nation government solvent through sound fiscal leadership.
Chief Thomas remains deeply involved in the struggle to establish aboriginal rights and title to land in Greater Victoria. Working with Songhees Nation Chief Robert Sam, Chief Thomas was integral in working for a fair settlement with the federal and provincial governments over dispossessed lands now occupied by the British Columbia Legislature.
Chief Thomas is active in promoting Coast Salish heritage and history within public schools, and is helping keep alive ancient aboriginal teachings and rites passed down through the millennia.