Elijah Harper

Quiet dignity.  That’s how Elijah Harper is perceived in the eyes of Canadians.  When he uttered the firm and eloquent “No” that blocked the passage of the Meech Lake Accord in the Manitoba Legislature in 1990, he exemplified the growing political clout of First Nations across Canada.  Eagle feather in hand, Mr. Harper cited the lack of adequate participation by Aboriginal people in Canada’s political process as his reason for blocking the accord.  His efforts garnered him distinction and accolades such as the Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year Award and the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award.  A member of the Red Sucker Lake First Nations, he became chief at age 29.  He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1981 where he served for 11 years.  In 1986, he was named to Cabinet as Minister Without Portfolio Responsible for Native Affairs and in 1987 became Manitoba’s Minister of Northern Affair.  In 1993, Mr. Harper assumed the national stage again when he was elected Liberal MP for Churchill, Canada’s third largest riding.  He currently sits on the House Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. After a lengthy illness he brought 3,000 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together in Hull, Quebec in a Sacred Assembly in December of 1995.  They met to find a spiritual process for resolving political problems.  He received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Public Service for his example and dedication to resolving the political and social problems of First Nations.