UBCIC Remembers Lee Maracle, Beloved Indigenous Activist and Acclaimed Writer and Poet

News Release
November 16, 2021

UBCIC Remembers Lee Maracle, Beloved Indigenous Activist and Acclaimed Writer and Poet

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – November 16, 2021) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) mourns the loss of the beloved and incomparable Lee Maracle. A celebrated and acclaimed writer, poet, teacher, and activist, Lee Maracle revolutionized Indigenous feminist literature in Canada and gave a poignant, unflinching voice to the stories of Indigenous women and their experiences with the destructive forces of discrimination and racism.

“Lee Maracle was a titan in the Canadian literature landscape who was not content to let colonial and patriarchal structures in Canada suppress voices like hers. A member of the Stó:lo Nation in southwestern B.C., Lee became one of the first Indigenous authors to be published in Canada with her 1975 autobiographical novel ‘Bobbi Lee Indian Rebel,’” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “I hold a special, personal connection to Lee’s novel. “More than 40 years ago, I opened ‘Bobbi Lee Indian Rebel; and was drawn not only to Lee’s invaluable insights but to a particular photo of her sister Joan. I am eternally grateful for Lee’s wise and courageous spirit, and for introducing me to my future wife Joan with whom I have built a loving family together and have been married to for 44 years. Joan and I remember and honour Lee’s life and incredible, inspiring achievements.”

“Despite being told by publishers that “Indians couldn’t read,” Lee persevered and published a vivid and heart wrenching body of work that examines and reflects upon the impacts of colonialism and the racist and sexist sentiments affecting Indigenous women,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of UBCIC. “Lee never shied away from speaking and writing the truth. Despite the challenges she confronted as an Indigenous woman, she not only honoured and incorporated the oral traditions of the Sto:lo, Squamish, and Metis people she descended from, but never hesitated to center and empower Indigenous women in her narratives. She will be forever remembered as a foundational figure in Indigenous feminist literature.”

“UBCIC will remember Lee with immense love, fondness, and gratitude. Because of her we have been blessed with a prolific and revolutionary body of writing that sheds light into the history of brutality that confronted First Nations in Canada. Her spark – her passion to convey and give voice to the reality that confronted Indigenous peoples – is immortalized in her captivating and beautiful essays, poems, and novels. As Lee once wrote: “for us racism is not an ideology in the abstract but a very real and practical part of our lives. The pain, the effect, the shame are tangible, measurable and murderous.” Lee effectively and proudly captured with emotion and beauty the stories and lives of our peoples, and we are all indebted to her for it,” concluded Chief Don Tom, Vice- President of UBCIC.           

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Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC: (250-490-5314)
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of UBCIC: (604-290-6083)
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of UBCIC: (c/o 778-866-0548)

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

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