1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 47

Friday, June 10, 2016
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

The Late Honourable Len Marchand, P.C., C.M.


Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I also rise today to honour our dear friend and colleague, Senator Len Marchand. Senator Marchand was a visionary public servant and a trailblazer in all aspects of his life. He was the voice of the Aboriginal people of Canada for many years when there were very few Aboriginal people in leadership positions.

Few Canadians today may recall that Senator Marchand was the first status Indian to ever graduate from public high school in Vernon, B.C. Indeed, the tremendous barriers Senator Marchand broke through during his time are often assumed today to be relics of a distant past in Canada.

Senator Marchand first entered politics in 1968, when he was elected as the Liberal Party candidate for the British Columbia riding of Kamloops—Cariboo to the House of Commons under the then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Senator Marchand and my law partner, the Honourable Tom Dohm, were both men from Kamloops, B.C. They both had tough childhoods and both worked hard to achieve great things. Most importantly, I learned from Mr. Dohm that Senator Marchand never forgot his roots and always worked hard for the welfare of Aboriginal people.

As you heard from Senator Munson, Senator Marchand held many posts in Canada, from parliamentary secretary to minister. During his time of public service, Senator Marchand persuaded the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau to begin land settlement negotiations between the federal Government of Canada and the First Nations. He never forgot to express the needs of Aboriginal people.

In 1984, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau appointed Senator Marchand to serve in the Senate. He was the fifth Aboriginal Canadian to serve in the Senate. Senator Marchand, as you heard from Senator Munson, was responsible for the establishment of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, an important committee which he chaired and continued to work on.

Honourable senators, when I first became a senator, Senator Marchand sat me down and said, “You represent a group of people who have not had a voice on Parliament Hill. When you speak about them, it will be lonely, but never forget why you are in the Senate. You are the voice of the people who do not get a chance to be in the Senate.”

Honourable senators, I often remember his words, but I am not sure I can often follow his words.

On behalf of all of us assembled here, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to Senator Marchand’s wife, Donna, his daughter, Lori, and his son, Len Jr. His son is proudly continuing his father’s work.

On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to express our gratitude for Senator Marchand’s exemplary record of service to Canada. He truly articulated the voice of Aboriginal people.

Rest in peace, Senator Marchand.