British Columbia

First Nations leader sworn in as B.C.'s lieutenant-governor

The former tribal chair of the Sto:lo First Nation has become British Columbia's 28th lieutenant-governor in a traditional ceremony at the legislature in Victoria Monday morning.

Former judge and Sto:lo leader expected to be strong advocate for reconcilation

The former tribal chair of the Sto:lo First Nation became British Columbia's 28th lieutenant-governor in a traditional ceremony at the legislature in Victoria Monday morning.

Steven Point, 57,is a former provincial court judge, andmore recently, headed the B.C. Tribal Commission, which oversees the treaty process.

Point's aboriginal heritage was incorporated in the traditional swearing-in ceremony,with a First Nations drummer playing inside the legislature for the first time.

Point acknowledged the significance of his Sto:lo heritage in his first speech as the Queen's representative in British Columbia.

"It's a drumbeat in this great hall [that] will ring forever as it has heralded in an old spirit of our peoples, which, in my opinion, has been a long time coming," the new lieutenant-governor said.

At age 23,Point was elected chief of the Skowkale First Nation, a post he held for 15 years. He has served as tribal chair of the Sto:lo Nation and Grand Chief of Sto:lo Tribal Council.

He has been a provincial court judge since 1999, most recently sitting in Abbotsford, and he was chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, according to a governmentnews release.

"Mr. Point has advocated for First Nations throughout his career, pressing for greater recognition of their contributions and their fuller involvement in all aspects of British Columbia life," Premier Gordon Campbell said at the ceremony.

Point's career achievements in law include positions as director of the native law program in the faculty of law at the University of British Columbia; instructor of native law at the University of Saskatchewan; adjudicator at the federal Department of Immigration and Employment; and practitioner of criminal law and native law as a partner in the firm Point and Shirley, according tothe release.

Point pledged to be an advocate for reconciliation between First Nations and non-natives. But as lieutenant-governor, Point's position is largely ceremonial, and he is expected to stay away from politics in public.

But ironically, the politics of avoiding politics was present in the legislatureMonday when government officials draped fabric over two historic murals featuring bare-breasted aboriginal women bringing grain and provisions to European sailors.

The official explanation for the cover-up was to provide a backdrop for official photographs. The murals have been the subject of ongoing criticism for their portrayal of British Columbia's aboriginal people during colonial times.

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