Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remembering... Chief Dan George

Vancouverites still celebrate the life of one of their own, Chief Dan George, who died this day in 1981...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn Geswanouth Slahoot on the Tsleil-Waututh reservation in North Vancouver in 1899, his name was changed when he was sent to residential school at the age of 5.

Having spent the first 60 years of his life as a labourer, Dan George was elected chief in 1951 and served until 1963, although after 1960 Chief Dan George was principally an actor. He gave an Academy Award-nominated performance in the 1970 film Little Big Man, and was also an author (of both My Heart Soars and My Spirit Soars).

A tireless and passionate advocate on behalf of Canada's First Nations, he was a familiar sight on Canadian television when I was a kid; his death, on this day in 1981, was one of the first celebrity deaths which moved me.

Chief Dan George's grand-daughter is the poet Lee Maracle, whose work is a continuation of her famous grandfather's.
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