Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson has been elected chief of his Westbank First Nation six times and is one of the most successful First Nations business people in Canada. He is also co-author with Arthur Manuel of Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call (Between the Lines, Toronto) published in May, 2015.
Grand Chief Derrickson was first elected Westbank band chief in 1976 and over the next ten years he led his band in a period of rapid economic development, taking it from one of the poorest in British Columbia to one of the wealthiest. He returned to band leadership in 1988 and broke new ground by leading his people on a logging venture on their Aboriginal title lands with a Indigenous rather than a provincial permit. His forthright style has at times made him a victim of attacks from both the local elites and the government. In 1982, he was subject of an assassination attempt by local white businessmen and in 1985, the government held an inquiry into his activities that eventually cleared him of wrong-doing.
As a young man he worked as a fruit picker and a welder and rancher before launching a series of businesses in the 1960’s that grew into large diversified Canadian and international holdings that are part of the RMD Group of Companies.
He was made a Grand Chief by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs in 2012 in recognition of his lifetime of political and economic leadership.