Statement on the passing of Chief Andy Thomas

Our community lost a great leader when Esquimalt Nation Chief Andrew Thomas, whose traditional name was Seenupin, died unexpectedly over this past weekend. For 47 years, he was Hereditary Chief through his great-great-great-grandfather, Sisunuq. He was known as Chief Andy, a humble man who worked every day for the well-being of his people and a champion of Indigenous rights.

He helped to develop the Assembly of First Nations, was on the executive of the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council and was honoured with the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award from Royal Roads University.

His legacy lives among us now and into the future each time we see the signs in the Lekwungen language and Salish artworks that extend across this region, and when we recognize the traditional territory upon which we do our work here.

As a statement from Esquimalt Nation highlighted, he was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, partner, teacher and colleague, and he embraced these responsibilities with pride and honour. He was always surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His charisma and humour drew people to his house, and his door was always open.

His passing has deeply affected his family, his community and the entire Salish peoples, as well as those who had the honour to know him. He will be deeply missed.

I was honoured to get to know and work with Chief Andy and deeply appreciated his honesty and his wisdom. My deepest condolences go to all those who knew and loved this great man. Especially, I send my sincere thoughts to his wife, Mary Anne, and his family at this time of grief.