Harry Pierre (1941-2007)
It was with great sadness that the staff and executives of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council said good-bye to their former Tribal Chief, Harry Pierre. Harry passed on in the early morning of February 20th in Prince George. He was elected Tribal Chief in 2003 and served a three year term in office. Among his many accomplishments in political, community, and family life, Harry led the tribal council through negotiations with industry such as Canfor and Enbridge and maintained a strong footing at the treaty negotiation table. As the Chair for the Council of Chiefs, Harry instilled dignity and fairness and strived for unity among the eight member nations.
“Harry left the legacy of a strong organization and staff that were dedicated to working under his leadership. The Chiefs had a great respect for him, as an Elder, a former Chief for Tl’azt’en Nation, and as their Tribal Chief,” said Tribal Chief David Luggi.
Harry Pierre enjoyed a long political career starting in the 1960s, often serving as Chief of the Tl’azt’en (klaz-den) Nation. He also served a term as Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, elected in 2003. He was one of the founding Chiefs of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs in the late 1960s and the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council in the 1970s. He also supported the creation of the First Nations Summit in the early 1990s.
“Harry’s love for the land and the people showed in his work for the tribal council,” said Vice Tribal Chief Catherine Lessard. “So many people enjoyed the many stories he told of life on the land, of our spirituality, and of how to respect our earth. He was a great leader, and he will be in our hearts forever.”
As a respected Elder of the Carrier Sekani, Harry was a fluent Dakelh speaker and would often do public radio announcements in his Native language. Harry also consistently provided translation at meetings for Elders. Under Harry’s leadership, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council hosted the 29th Annual BC Elders Gathering in 2005. Harry also acted as an advocate for the missing and murdered women of the Highway of Tears, and helped bring their families and community members together for the Highway of Tears Symposium in 2006.
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council General Manager, Jason Morgan worked closely with Harry during his term as Tribal Chief and learned from his compassion and wisdom. “Harry shared with me that he cannot say no to his People, when they needed money while they were living on the streets, he would ensure to buy them a coffee or a sandwich, and at times loan them money knowing they may never re-pay him. He knew that everybody had a story on their challenges and how they became homeless, and more importantly, he took the time to listen to their stories. From time to time we would have some People whom were homeless that would like to meet the Tribal Chief to just sit down with him and have a coffee, and Harry would drop what he was doing and have a coffee with them.”
In loving memory of Harry Pierre the CSTC staff and friends have compiled a small book with memoirs about Harry. We will all miss him dearly and he affected our lives in so many different ways.