Gordon Antoine, who has been Chief of the Coldwater Indian Band for the past 17 years, has devoted much of his adult life to creating a better life for Aboriginal people throughout B.C.
Knowing that First Nations people needed education to take their rightful place in Canada, as highly productive and highly regarded individuals, he started the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. With an initial enrollment of only 10 students, the institute has grown to accommodate more than 300 students and now offers distance education courses to others as far away as Yukon and the Maritimes. More than 80 per cent of the student body graduate directly into waiting jobs. No other institution in North America can boast of such a success rate.
Aware as well that First Nations people could not achieve self determination without economic independence, Gordon Antoine passed on his knowledge of business and industry through membership and leadership in such agencies as the Western Indian Agricultural Corporation, and the Nicola Valley Indian Development Corporation.
Though taken from his Nlaka’pamux culture at a young age and placed in a residential school, where he was forbidden to speak his language or practice his customs and traditions, Gordon Antoine has today adopted concepts such as the medicine wheel to show all cultures how to overcome discrimination and racism, to heal the wounds of the past and reach towards a brighter future.