It is with deepest sadness that the Marchand family announces the peaceful passing of the Honourable Leonard Stephen Marchand Sr., husband, father, grandfather, politician, scientist, advocate, mentor and friend.
Len had a lasting impact on all who knew him. He was a proud member of the Okanagan Nation. In 1968, only eight years after First Nations people earned the right to vote in federal elections, Len became the first status Indian to be elected to Parliament. From 1976 to 1979, he became the first person of First Nations’ ancestry to serve in the federal cabinet, first as Minister of State for Small Business and later as Minister of the Environment. Len served in the Senate from 1984 until 1998. He has received the Order of Canada, the Order of BC, the Queen’s Jubilee medal, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award and an honorary doctorate from Thompson Rivers University in recognition of his service to his people and to Canada.
Len was a humble man who came from humble beginnings. Family always came first. The love of his life was his wife of almost 56 years, Donna. He loved and was incredibly proud of his children, Lori and Len Jr. (Laurie), his grandchildren, Carling, Erin (Mitch), Caitlin, Miles, Noah and Keegan, his sisters, Margaret, Joan, Pauline and Alice, his brother, Raymond and his many, many nieces and nephews. He also loved and was proud of his parents, Joseph and Agnes, and his sisters, Mildred, Josephine and Theresa, who predeceased him.
Len was a trailblazer. He graduated from Vernon High and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from UBC and a Master’s degree in Range Management from the University of Idaho when few First Nations people had done so before him. He had a love affair with plant science and was proud to have published peer reviewed scientific papers when he worked for the federal Department of Agriculture and to have been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni by the Faculty of Land and Food Systems for Agriculture Sciences at UBC. As a politician, he demonstrated that his people could and should play an active role in the political life of this country. Len’s greatest achievements were in advancing the interests of his people, but he represented all of his constituents equally and always did what he honestly thought was best and right.
Always true to himself, Len valued integrity above all else. This inspired the admiration, respect, loyalty and love of his family, friends, colleagues and staff.
We will all feel his absence deeply.
A public celebration of Len’s life will be held at the Arbour at the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc powwow grounds in Kamloops, B.C. at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, 2016. A private graveside service will be held in Vernon, BC, the following day.
Limlempt and kukstemc to the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc for offering the use of their beautiful facility for the celebration on June 11.
The family extends their heartfelt thanks to Dr. Sigalet and the other exceptional doctors, nurses and staff who cared for Len during his stay at Royal Inland Hospital.
Len always said “Education is the key to the future.” If family and friends desire, donations to the Thompson Rivers University Foundation in Len’s memory would be appreciated.