Obituary: Ian Waddel 1942 – 2021

21 April 2021
Ian Waddell 1942 – 2021

Ian Waddell Q.C. was due to give us a talk on the 5th May.

Born in Glasgow, Ian emigrated to Canada with his parents at the age of 5 After completing two degrees in Law, as a young storefront lawyer he defended First Nations people who were disadvantaged by the existing legal system and helped to bring about a change in the law. While assisting in the Mackenzie Pipeline Inquiry he spent two years travelling among First Nations people, to assess the social, environmental and economic impact of a proposed gas line. (it was not installed.)

Subsequently he had a role in the writing of Section 35 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognises and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights. This led to an expansion of Indigenous rights in a multitude of ways: Ian himself credits the ‘steadfastness of the Aboriginal people, not only their leaders in offices throughout Canada but also the drums that I heard in all those villages and fish camps’.

He gave up law for a political career, serving in the House of Commons for 14 years and in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for 5 years. He never lost interest in protecting First Nations people, involving them in the planning process for Vancouver’s bid to host the Winter Olympics (which succeeded against Quebec and Calgary).

As well as being a lawyer and politician, Ian has been a writer and teacher. Latterly he had been employed as a film producer and as a consultant in environmental and aboriginal affairs.

A fervent admirer of John Rae, he joined the Society in 2016 on a visit to Scotland after meeting Ken Stewart, who suggested he join. He has been a keen supported of the Society and will be sadly missed.

Fiona Gould – JRS Membership Secretary