|Biography of Robert Manuel|
February 4, 1947 - August 8, 1998
Bob’s life was very basic, a life of "walking with the people", a testament to his humility as a human being and to his greatness as a crusader, a champion for the people, a conscientious leader, a son walking in the footsteps of his father, guided by his mother’s teachings, a protective and caring brother, a loving husband and father, a playful and joyful uncle and grandpa. He believed in the creator, language, history, tradition, grandparents, Elders, family, First Nations people, and the land. From a eulogy given by Bob’s sister Vera.
Robert Manuel, son of Grand Chief George Manuel and Spiritual Leader Marceline Manuel, was born in the Secwepemc territory in the interior of British Columbia. His parents, powerful leaders amongst the aboriginal people of the nation, instilled in him the principles, beliefs and sense of responsibility which made him an equally powerful and effective leader. From a young age, Robert had been politically active. He was Chief of the Neskonlith Band from 1977 to 1987 but also served on the Executive Council of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs from 1976 to 1980 and played a major role in leading and organizing the Constitutional Express in 1980, that lead to the addition of Section 35 protecting Aboriginal Rights in the Canadian Constitution. He served as President of the Union in 1982 and was a founding member of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.
From 1983 to 1984, Robert chaired the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs Bilateral Commission and worked hard to bring his principles and ideals to fruition. He worked to advance the issues which aboriginal people face today- self-government, land claims, economic development and education. He campaigned to have the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to temporarily halt the catch of Coho salmon to rebuild the stocks of the Thompson River Coho which had been threatened to near extinction. He had worked since 1987 on the development of policy positions on Aboriginal Title, and Shuswap Nation Reconstruction, decolonization and unity throughout the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. In 1997 he was a candidate for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and, following this, appointed as executive Liaison to the AFN for the Interior Nations Alliance. Robert passed away suddenly following emergency surgery at the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital. His sister, Vera, emphasized the value which Robert has given us-he "always felt that Aboriginal Title is the foundation of our existence here on earth, its a spiritual connection that we, as Indigenous people, need to maintain into the future". His spirit shall live in the hearts of the aboriginal people of the nation as we continue to care for the gifts of the creator.