Leonard Marchand

There was once a day when the federal Minister of Indian Affairs made decisions while surrounded by non-Aboriginal advisors. Leonard Marchand helped to change that. Armed with a Master’s degree in Forestry and service at the highest levels of the North American Indian Brotherhood, Senator Marchand arrived in Ottawa in the 1960s. Already among the first from his reserve to complete secondary school, undergraduate and graduate university studies, Senator Marchand was soon the first Status Indian to serve as a Special Assistant to a federal cabinet minister. By 1966, he became the first Aboriginal to be made Special Assistant to the Minister of Indian Affairs. Fresh from these roles, this proud member of the Okanogan First Nation in British Columbia was destined to make history, yet again. Running as a Liberal in 1968, he won. This made him the first status Indian to have ever been elected to Parliament. He served 11 years as an MP and was brought into Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet as Minister of State for Small Business and Minister of State for the Environment. Called to the Senate in 1984, Senator Marchand would make history again. He set out to help undo the injustices visited upon Aboriginal Canadian war veterans. He co-chaired the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Veterans. This, coupled with arm-twisting at the highest levels on Senator Marchand’s part, made the National Aboriginal Veterans’ Scholarship Trust a reality. Retired Senator Leonard Marchand remains actively involved in projects such as the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument Fund.