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Biography & Autobiography Native Americans

He Moved A Mountain

The Life of Frank Calder and the Nisga’a Land Claims Accord

by (author) Joan Harper

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
May 2013
Native Americans, Political, Native American Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2013
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 15
  • Grade: 10


Dr. Frank Arthur Calder of BC’s Nisga’a First Nation was the first indigenous person to be elected to any Canadian governing body. For twenty-six years he served as an MLA in the legislature of British Columbia. He was the driving force behind Canada’s decision to grant recognition of indigenous land title to First Nations people throughout the country. He accomplished this goal by guiding the controversial request through a series of court cases, finally to the Supreme Court of Canada, achieving success when Parliament, in an all-party resolution, passed a measure recognizing indigenous title. Because of this historic decision, Canada serves as a resource for other indigenous populations in countries where similar accommodations for indigenous people have not yet been made. Calder received many honours in his lifetime, including the Order of Canada. The one he most cherished, however, was one rarely bestowed by the Nisga’a Nation: “Chief of Chiefs.” While growing up, Frank went to grade 10 in residential school, completed high school and then graduated from the University of BC (in the Anglican Theological College). It took him two years longer than usual to complete university, as he had to return home during the fishing season to earn the money for his tuition.

About the author

Joan Harper’s career began in library education at the Vancouver School Board and the University of BC. A long-time admirer of the work of Frank Calder, Joan met Frank’s wife shortly after Frank’s death and gained access to much private material, augmenting it with extensive research through interviews and in the archives. Currently, Joan resides in Schelt, BC, with her husband.

Joan Harper's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“The life of men like Calder should be studied by everyone.“ —Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

Librarian Reviews

He Moved a Mountain: The Life of Frank Calder and the Nisga'a Land Claims Accord

Th is is the biography of Frank Calder, the first Aboriginal in Canada to be elected to any legislature and to be appointed a cabinet minister. He served as MLA for Atlin, BC for 26 years and for most of that time he was also the president of the Nisga’a Tribal Council. Calder fought tirelessly for Aboriginal rights. He won the right of First Nations to negotiate land claims in a Supreme Court of Canada decision favouring the Nisga’a. When Calder passed away in 2006, the world lost an internationally respected Aboriginal elder. Includes extensive chapter notes.

Harper is a former library educator both for the Vancouver School Board and the University of British Columbia. Th is is her first book.

Caution: Use of the word “Indian” reflects the historical context of the work.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2013-2014.

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