2020 was challenging for many, but that hasn’t stopped Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) member Frank Marchand from being there to help and support community members in need.
As part of an ongoing series on community changemakers, IndigiNews asked people to nominate those who are having an impact on their community. When Doreen Lambert saw the call for community nominations, she says her first thought was Marchand.
“Frank is an amazing person, and I believe he is so well deserving of this, so when I saw this, I had to,” says Lambert, who is Marchand’s cousin.
She explains that Marchand and his late Father, Gordon Marchand, are well-known master canoe carvers and cultural knowledge keepers in the Okanagan.
“I nominated Frank Marchand because when he hunts or fishes, he shares with those that need it in the band. He’s always there to help anyone,” she says.
“He is a huge part of the Vernon community as a whole, and I’m proud to call him my cousin.”
Marchand, says he is humbled by the nomination, found himself shocked to find out he made someone’s life better.
“I was so shocked that I made people’s lives better, I just do what I can for people, just a normal day,” Marchand says.
“I feel the very best helping people wherever I can.”
It is significant to Marchand to teach traditional knowledge to youth through canoe building, as he is continuing his late father’s passion for bringing back the canoe culture.
“My dad said, make sure everybody knows how to make canoes and make sure that all communities have their own, so I’ve been working my best on trying to make that happen in all communities,” says Marchand
“I think that made my dad proud. I’ve been following his dream.”
In addition to canoe carving, for the past five years, Marchand has been part of the Okanagan Nation Response Team (ONRT).
The ONRT is a group of community members who support Indigenous communities in the Okanagan area for suicide education and responding to a crisis or any trauma, according to Marchand.
“I’m helping the nation, in every community, I’m proud to be on the team,” he says
Marchand expresses it is fulfilling when he is helping community members and passing on traditional knowledge to youth, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“The youth are going to be the future leaders, and they’re going to be the ones taking over in the years to come. We need our youth to carry on these traditions,” Marchand says.
“I’m honoured to be nominated, and our nation is starting to become stronger and stronger together, which feels really good.”
Editor’s Note, Jan. 6 2021: A previous version of this story referred to a submission from Darlene Lambert, this is incorrect. Frank Marchand was nominated Doreen Lambert and the story has been corrected accordingly.