KAMLOOPS — Longtime Simpcw First Nation Chief Nathan Matthew is the newest chancellor of Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Matthew was unveiled as Wally Oppal's successor at a ceremony on campus Friday afternoon.
The Chu Chua resident has been a longtime education advocate, previously serving as TRU's first executive director of Aboriginal Education, and as a member of the Assembly of First Nations Chief Committee on Education.
Matthew views his appointment as evidence of improving relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
"An Indigenous person being appointed to such a high position within a university, or any institution, in my grandfathers' time would have been virtually unthought of ... When I think of the kind of biases and prejudice and racism my forefathers and mothers had to deal with, I don't even know that anymore, I knew it existed. So, this is a real sign of progress," Matthew said.
On March 1 Matthew will replace current Chancellor Wally Oppal, who has served in the role since 2010.
Oppal says he has enjoyed every moment of his time as chancellor, and he says he couldn't have asked for a better person to pass the torch to.
"He's a local person who's given so much to the community, and I think he's just going to be awesome," Oppal said. "He'll grow into the role. It's not as easy as it looks, it's difficult to do all of this stuff, but it's fun, and it's important."
Matthew will be formally installed as chancellor at a convocation ceremony in June, at which point Oppal will be honoured for his contribution to the university.
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