Recent History – 2001-2003
April 20, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Those watching the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards on national television last month might have noticed a familiar face.
Dawson Creek resident Fred House was among the 14 people to be presented with the prestigious award during the gala event carried live by CBC from Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton
Known for his advocacy and improvement of the lives of the Metis people, House earned the award in the community development category.
“I was very honoured,” House said of his reaction when he first learned that he would receive the award.
The award actually comes in two parts. House was given a stylized lucite sculpture with the National Aboriginal Achievement Award embedded inside. And he was given an honouring medallion created by Coast Salish artist Susan Point.
House received his award for community development. In a program that accompanied the awards, House’s accomplishments were put this way:
“Fred House has spent his lifetime giving voice to a people that were formerly among Canada’s most disenfranchised — non-status Indians.
“A brilliant Metis leader, House also helped ensure his people were not ignored, forgotten and disenfranchised all over again when Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the provincial premiers repatriated the Canadian Constitution 20 years ago. The rights of Canada’s Metis are now constitutionally enshrined and other battles for recognition can continue.
“House was once described as a ‘born leader, fighting for those who can’t speak for themselves and one who never gives up.’ This description fits him well.
“He served as President of the B.C. Association of Non-Status Indians in the turbulent 1970s and formed Coyote Credit Union which provides small business loans and investments for Aboriginal entrepreneurs. House founded a construction company and heavy equipment contracting co-operative that employed hundreds. He fought long and hard to convince government officials that attention to the deplorable housing crisis in northern B.C. in the 1970’s. House established a province-wide network of court workers to assist Aboriginal people before the courts.
“This tireless advocate for Metis rights has taken his people’s case directly to every Prime Minister since John Diefenbaker. He once boldly approached Trudeau as the Prime Minister’s car idled on Parliament Hill and demanded a meeting between the late Prime Minister and the Metis leaders. He got it.
“House remains plain-spoken to this day and will never retreat when he believes his cause is just.”
The awards were established in 1993 to pay tribute to the United Nations International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. After eight years, the awards have become a Canadian institution that recognize career achievement by Aboriginal professionals in diverse occupations.
House received the award March 16 in a ceremony that was hosted by Waneek Horn-Miller, who co-captained Canada’s women’s water polo team at the Sydney Olympics and Ted Nolan, who was named the National Hockey League coach of the year while at the helm of the Buffalo Sabres.