Dr. Mary Thomas
Dr. Mary Thomas was born in 1919 into the Neskonlith Band. She worked at preserving Secwepemc culture and language for most of her life while acquiring numerous accolades and awards for her efforts. In 1970 she helped create the Central Okanagan Interior Friendship Society, sparking her interest in First Nations cultural preservation. From the 1970's onward Mary worked tirelessly to promote the Secwepemc language and culture, solidifying her place as a First Nations ambassador.
Mary Thomas received the B.C. Museums Association Distinguished Person Award in 1989 and the Governor Generals Award in 1992. She was the first Native American to receive the Indigenous Conservatonist of the year award from the Seacology Foundation. In 2001, Dr. Thomas received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Environment. Over the years she also received two honorary degrees one from University of Victoria and another from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She expressed,"I'm worried about the children I want to make people whole again." Mary Thomas focused on creating the Shuswap Centre a place to teach about native culture to children and future generations.