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Former WFN chief's latest book, a memoir, has already sold out of hard copies

Ronald Derrickson
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November 07, 2020 - 8:40 AM

Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson’s latest book, a memoir of his own life, is flying off the shelves.

Derrickson grew up in a shack on Westbank land and went on to become one of the most successful Indigenous businessmen in Canada. As a political leader, he served as Chief of the Westbank First Nation for 12 years, helping turn it into an economic success, and was made a Grand Chief by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. He is the owner and president of RMD Group, which has been operating in Westbank for almost 30 years, according to its website.

He recently published a memoir called Fight or Submit; Standing Tall in Two Worlds, which details assassination attempts on his life, poverty, hard work and success.

The book, published Oct. 27, has sold out of hard copies, according to his publisher ECW Press. His other two books, co-authored with deceased First Nations political leader and long-time friend of Derrickson's Arthur Manuel, have won multiple awards.

With his latest book, he says he "wanted to stimulate native people who sit there as rights are being (taken)," he said, adding that thus far “most of the book sales have been to non-Indians so I hope it gives them a clearer picture of what the native people faced in a storyline, not in statistics.”

As chief of the WFN, Derrickson helped spur development on WFN land back in the 1980s. According to a Fraser Institute case study, “he proved to be ambitious, aggressive, and not too worried about fine points of procedure. External developments also helped to give Chief Derrickson more latitude.”

Derrickson’s economic mindset, he said, comes from always planning ahead and learning from his father Harry Derrickson, who he said taught him what he knows, despite having only a Grade 2 education.

“My dad would buy land I would help it get developed. We used to have our own asparagus farms and so I learned by (those operations)… and then fighting for our rights and people would try and take it away,” he said.

He was made a Grand Chief over his battle with the Ministry of Forests, who tried to stop WFN logging on Crown land in the area.

“Since I was 15, I was always fighting for our rights, and I didn’t mind taking people to court either,” he said.

But his greatest achievement, he said, is being a father.

“In today’s age if you can raise two good kids who are talented and loving, and love each other, and not into drugs, you’ve done a good job,” he said. “Making money is one thing but being a good father is another. I’ve always done what I wanted to do and if I was going to be chief I was going to act like a chief and fight for my people’s rights. If I was a businessman I was going to make sure I had all the tools to make sure my business was successful… it’s really simple, you solve the problems, and you make the money and you persevere.”

Second-printings have already been ordered. His next book, which he has already in first draft, will be about his 22-year experience in the Ukraine. He's also planning to write a book about his time spent as a negotiator for First Nations called Let the Games Begin and it's intended to be more humorous, he said.

You can purchase a copy of his memoir online.

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