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Frank Calder

Lifetime (1996)

The Calder Case is the backbone of current and future Aboriginal land claim negotiations in Canada. Prior to that landmark case before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1973, there was no clarified process for land claim settlements. No one was certain which lands were negotiable and which were not. The case resulted in 40% of Canada’s land mass becoming negotiable and Canada launching a land claim policy to guide negotiations. Dr. Frank Calder, a member of the Nisga’a Nation of British Colombia, led the efforts of the Nisga’a Tribal Council in gaining that ruling. He was the group’s founder and represented their voice as president from 1955 to 1974. Made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985, Dr. Calder was the first Aboriginal person elected to a Canadian Parliament in 1949. He served as a British Colombia MLA for 26 years with the CCF, the NDP, and later with Social Credit. He was the first Aboriginal person to become a Minister of the Crown in Canada when he served as Minister Without Portfolio from 1972 to 1973. Dr. Calder graduated from the University of British Colombia with an L.Th. (Licentiate in Theology) in 1946. He was enshrined in Canada’s First Nations Hall of Fame in 1967, earned his Doctorate of Divinity in 1989, and was honoured with the title Chief of the Chiefs of the Nisga’a Nation in 1972. Still extremely active at 80 years old, Dr. Frank Calder received the Lifetime Achievement Award for giving the country a process by which to deal equitably with First Nations’ land claims.