Leonard Marchand is pictured in a Sept. 27, 1974 file photo. (Photo: Chuck Mitchell/CP)He was born in Vernon, B.C., in 1933 and went on to mark a number of milestones for indigenous people in Canada. He was the first status Indian to graduate from a public high school in Vernon, and was one of the first aboriginal students to enrol at the University of British Columbia. Marchand also voted in an election in 1958, two years before First Nations citizens were granted the right to vote. His work advocating for indigenous rights took him to Ottawa, where he got jobs working for cabinet ministers Jack Nicholson and Arthur Laing. In 1968, he ran for the Liberals in Kamloops-Cariboo, which had long been held by Progressive Conservative MP E. Davie Fulton.
Marchand credited his win to his strong connections with the agricultural community in the area, and the visits Pierre Trudeau made on his behalf during the height of Trudeaumania. Marchand went on to hold cabinet positions including minister of state for small business, where he was handed the task of bringing the metric system to Canada, and later served as environment minister until the Liberal government's defeat in 1979.
Canada has lost a trailblazer. My condolences to the family of Len Marchand, the first federal cabinet minister of First Nations descent.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 3, 2016
He became the second Aboriginal senator in Canada
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