As a child, Wendy Grant-John dreamed of one day being the leader of her community. Growing up on the Musqueam First Nation on the edges of Vancouver, Ms. Grant-John knew that the history and culture of her Salish ancestors were essential to the future prosperity of her people. Decades later her aspirations became a reality and perhaps even exceeded her childhood dreams. As three-terms Chief of her community, former Assembly of First Nations Vice-Chief for British Columbia, and former Associate Regional Director-General for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, who now runs her own store, Ms. Grant-John’s passion for her people and culture has developed into a 30-year career of advancing Aboriginal cultural, economic, social and political development in Canada.
Among her achievements, Ms. Grant-John single-handedly spearheaded the revitalization of Salish weaving, a tradition not practiced since the 19thcentury. The weaving of textiles long held an important cultural and social place amongst the Salish. Her involvement in the book, “Hands of Our Ancestors” The revival of Salish Weaving at Musqueam, was an important step in reclaiming this keystone of Salish culture.
On the social and economic fronts, Ms. Grant-John has been a committed and tireless advocate and an enabler of positive change. Aside from overseeing the acquisition of the Celtic Shipyards and the Fraser Arms Hotel – two significant community economic development initiatives – she also contributed to the foundation of the Big Sisters Mentoring Program for First Nations Women; the Wellness Council; and the Concerned Parents Group for the Musqueam Nation for parents coping with childhood drug and alcohol abuse. In 2001 she was acknowledged for her significant contributions with the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Social Action. Two years later added an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Royal Roads University to her growing list of accolades.