July 4, 2023
The UBCIC mourns and remembers Pilalt and Stó:lō Matriarch and Cheam leader Siōliya June Quipp
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/ Vancouver, B.C. – July 4, 2023) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) joins the Pilalt tribe and the Stó:lō Nation in mourning the passing of their matriarch and leader Siōliya June Quipp who will be remembered for her incredible energy and deep commitment to her ancestral ways and the well-being of younger generations.
A strong Pilalt and Stó:lō woman, June worked tirelessly to protect her people, especially children and their way of life deeply connected to fish, and a wealth creation economy centred around salmon. She had a powerful way of teaching, drawing people in and making them stand strong for Indigenous rights. Thanks to her passion and commitment, she made connections from coast to coast, bringing support to her home community, Cheam, her territory, and the river.
Born as the 7th of 20 children of Edna and Albert Douglas, she had a strong work ethic instilled in her that carried on throughout her life. She could process fish faster than anyone else and spent her life protecting the Pilalt way of life and the Fraser River that she loved as deeply as she did her people. Her remaining siblings remember her for her determination and strength. Together with her loving husband of 57 years, Fred Quipp, fish camp and Cheam beach were their favourite places to take their children, grandchildren and most recently great-grandchildren to pass on their teachings and way of life. She was inspired by the beauty of seeing her children and their children follow in their parents’ footsteps of taking care of their people, especially those most in need.
As her father and late brother Sam Douglas before her, June served as the Chief of Cheam, from 1997 to 2003. During that time, she led her people through the “War on the Water” with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) asserting Cheam’s inherent right to fish. Joined by Indigenous youth from far and wide, including the West Coast Warriors, she kept everyone safe and led with a calm, unwavering strength. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC and his wife Joan recall June telling them to get on a boat and engage in what they described as a rodeo on the water. At June’s service, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip stated ,“It is a testimony to June, that I got into the boat as I would not have gotten in for anyone else. I do not even know how to swim and then there we were in the middle of the Fraser in a confrontation with DFO taking a stand for Indigenous rights!” Many of those present at June’s service in Cheam last week attested to the strength of her convictions and how she brought the same out in everyone from youth to elders. June carried the same drive as her beloved salmon, fighting an upstream battle to make it home to the place they carry in their DNA.
With the Stó:lō hand drumming and traditional songs including the Women’s Warrior Song reverberating from June’s service, we are reminded that Siōliya’s work on this side has been carried out and that she will continue to guide us from the other side as the next generation picks up the torch. The UBCIC mourns with all who knew and loved Siōliya June Quipp, and we send our most heartfelt condolences to her family, community, nation, friends, and supporters from coast to coast.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca