150+ Canadians Day 119: Len Marchand

The Honourable Len Marchand contributed to peace through his work in federal politics, particularly promoting the need for land settlements with Canada’s First Nations. #Canada150

The Honourable Leonard (Len) Stephen Marchand (1933 – 2016) was a member of the Okanagan Indian Band and the first status First Nations person to be elected to Canada’s Parliament.

Trained as an agronomist, Marchand left that career in the mid-1960s to work for the North American Indian Brotherhood. His work took him to Ottawa to lobby on Indigenous issues. He ran for the Liberal party in the riding of Kamloops-Cariboo in 1968, and represented the riding until 1979.

The Honourable Len Marchand became the first Indigenous person to hold a position in the federal cabinet. He was Parliamentary Secretary to Jean Chretien, who was then the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and had a role in convincing the government to begin land settlement negotiations with First Nations.

Marchand also held posts as Minister of State for Small Businesses and Minister of the Environment. He was appointed to the Senate in 1984 where he worked to establish the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. He retired from the Senate in 1998.

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