May 2, 2022
UBCIC Statement of Condolence on the Passing of Philomena (Phyllis) Joseph
((Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – May 2, 2022) It is with shock and profound sadness that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Executive has learned of the passing of Philomena Joseph on April 27th at the age of 66. A former receptionist at the UBCIC, Phyllis, as she was known to family, her many friends, and colleagues, was a remarkable person whose warmth, kindness, and humour elevated the spirits of everyone who had the good fortune to be in her company.
Phyllis was born in Secwépemc Territory, at Chu Chua, near Barriere, BC, in 1956 and was a member of the Simpcw First Nation. Phyllis worked at the UBCIC between 1992 and 2003 under the leadership and direction of both Grand Chief Saul Terry and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. Phyllis had the daunting tasks of coordinating Executive meeting and travel schedules, managing staff requirements and routines, and assisting with the logistics of Chief Council meetings and member events, all of which she approached with confidence, calm, and good humour, providing all of us with reassurance and levity under demanding circumstances. Phyllis was a fierce advocate for the recognition of First Nations Title and Rights, and she celebrated key milestones with us during her time with the UBCIC, such as the Supreme Court of Canada’s ground-breaking Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision and, as a survivor of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the federal government’s initial steps toward acknowledging the harms of the Indian Residential School system.
As receptionist, Phyllis was the first point of contact at our former Gastown office where she would greet both anticipated and unexpected visitors with her characteristic generosity, openness, and warmth. She was a trusted friend to many of the Indigenous people in the Gastown area without stable housing or support, and Phyllis regularly offered food, coffee, and comradery to anyone in need who came up the elevator to the fifth floor.
Phyllis demonstrated a unique sensitivity and she often shared with us stories that described her experiences, visions, and dreams. Her openness put everyone at ease and brought all of us together so that we felt like family.
We send our deepest condolences to Phyllis’ family and friends, which include the many members of our communities who had the great privilege to know her.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 250-813-3315
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer, c/o 604-842-2977
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