On November 25th, 2020, in an online ceremony, the Honourable Steven Point (xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl), former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and retired Provincial Court Judge, was installed as Chancellor of the University of British Columbia. The virtual event incorporated elements of the traditional in-person ceremony, including an address by the new Chancellor. Later that day, he presided over the university’s fall graduation ceremony.
It is difficult to know which of the new Chancellor’s many titles to use when referring to him. As a former Lieutenant Governor, he is entitled to be called “the Honourable”. But we know him best in his judicial role, so we will follow the Court’s policy and refer to him initially as “Judge Point (retired)”. In keeping with the informal tone and language of eNews articles, after that we’ll simply use “Judge Point” as a courtesy accorded to retired Provincial Court judges.
Becoming the titular head of his alma mater is just the latest milestone in Judge Point’s outstanding life of service. His career has included serving as BC’s as 28th Lieutenant Governor and as a Provincial Court judge (twice), serving as Chief Commissioner of the British Columbia Treaty Commission, chairing an advisory committee that worked to implement the recommendations of BC’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, practicing as a lawyer, and working as an immigration adjudicator and with the Union of British Columbia Chiefs.
From 1975 to 1999, Judge Point served as Chief of the Skowkale First Nation and from 1994 to 1999 he was also Tribal Chair of the Stó:lō Nation. A member of the Skowkale First Nation, he has advocated for Indigenous peoples throughout his career, pressing for greater recognition of their contributions and their fuller involvement in all aspects of life in British Columbia.
Judge Point retained close ties with the University of BC after receiving his Bachelor of Laws there in 1985. From 1991 to 1994 he served as director of the First Nations Legal Studies program at UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for leadership in the Indigenous community and exceptional commitment in the fields of law, legal, and Aboriginal education.
He has also been awarded honourary doctorates from the University of Victoria, the University of the Fraser Valley, Capilano University, and the Justice Institute of British Columbia, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Order of BC, the Joseph H. Cohen Award from the Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, and the Order of Chilliwack.
How did Judge Point come to be appointed a Provincial Court judge twice? He served as a judge from 1999 to 2007, when he resigned to become Lieutenant Governor. After completing his term as the Queen’s representative in BC, he was re-appointed to the Court in 2014 where he served for another four years before retiring in 2018.
After such a full working life, Judge Point certainly hasn’t been idle in retirement! In addition to accepting the university Chancellorship, since leaving the bench he has served on the Board of Providence Health Care (St. Paul’s Hospital) and as an Honourary Colonel, 39 Service Brigade, Canadian Armed Services, worked with the Stólô Nation on treaty making negotiations, chaired a local society building a new longhouse and possibly a new First Nations Friendship Centre in Chilliwack, and served on the Chilliwack City Safety Advisory Committee. He’s recently joined the board of the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre.
In addition to all these activities, as well as speaking engagements and writing, he reports he is busy with thirteen grandchildren and a rapidly growing puppy named Scarlet.
His former colleagues congratulate Judge Point on his new appointment – the latest in a life of stellar accomplishments!