VICTORIA – New Democrat leader Adrian Dix and Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis released the following statement:
"It is with deep sadness that we learned today of the passing of Chief Robert Sam. Chief Sam has led the Songhees First Nation for more than 15 years, culminating a lifetime of service that began when he was first elected as a councillor in the 1960s.
"Chief Sam was born and raised on Songhees land next to the Township of Esquimalt. He attended a residential school in Kamloops, the St. Louis College for Boys in Victoria, and the University of Victoria.
"Along with Esquimalt Nation Chief Andy Thomas, Chief Sam led the way to achieving a settlement with the provincial and federal governments in 2006 over dispossessed land now occupied by the B.C. Legislature. Chief Sam was also the lead negotiator for the Songhees within the Te`Mexw Treaty Association, an association of five First Nations on southern Vancouver Island.
"He served on the Assembly of First Nations chiefs’ committee on treaties, was a board member for the First Nations Finance Authority and sat on the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority board, among many other community activities. A lifelong believer in the value of education, Chief Sam struck an agreement with the Victoria School Board and an affiliation with Camosun College to help enrich the lives of his people.
"He also believed in giving back personally, and was a mentor to young people, teaching traditional skills such as canoe racing. We are deeply grateful for his steady leadership and dedication to service over many years.
"On behalf of the New Democrat Opposition caucus, we extend our sincere condolences to Chief Sam’s family, his people, and his many friends here on Vancouver Island and beyond. May the legacy of his remarkable spirit and generous contribution to his people and to our community live on gloriously and make a difference for many others in the years to come.
"As Chief Sam himself said after the land claim settlement in 2006: 'The strength and wisdom of our past leaders have served to get us to where we are today. The vision and commitment of our people today will help us achieve our goals for tomorrow.' "