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Profile: Leslie Varley

More about some of the people from the 8th Fire TV series.

Director, Aboriginal Health Provincial Health Services Authority (BC):


Leslie Varley is a long time activist for Aboriginal peoples' health. Being an activist may be in her DNA; she is the great-niece of the late Chief Frank Calder, the first First Nations member of a Canadian legislature (1949).

(Frank Calder is also known for the Calder Case, a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1973 stipulating that Aboriginal title to traditional lands exists, regardless of any government policy to the contrary).

Varley is director of the Provincial Health Services Authority's Aboriginal Program (BC) which aims to improve the quality and access to healthcare for Aboriginal people. She's the daughter of an English father and a Nisga'a mother, who as a child, was forced to attend residential school.

Varley is a member of the Killer Whale clan of the Nisga'a Nation.

When asked whether she's optimistic about the relationship between Canada's First Peoples and non-Indigenous people, she says: "I'm optimistic most of the time. But I have to admit there are some days when I want people to think of me as a human being and not as an Indian."

Watch Angela Sterritt's video portrait of Leslie Varley and her family attending a Nis'ga Moving Headstones ceremony and watch a longer interview with her.


Indigenous Cultural Competency Training Program