Dr. Mary M. Thomas

Secwepemc Nation – Switzmalph Community (Salmon Arm)

Fondly known as “Mother Nature”

Mary left a legacy of love for her culture and for the environment. She lived her entire life in the Shuswap and Okanagan regions, raising her sixteen (16) children and foster children. Mary was an expert and beloved teacher on traditional knowledge of the Secwepemc culture including Stories, Place Names, Plant Names/Uses, Language, Indigenous Food systems, Health care and Family Values.

Her Accomplishments include:

  • Founder of the Central Okanagan Friendship Center (now known as Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society), 1974
  • Contributor of the traditional winter house, “Kekuli” to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, 1980’s
  • BC Museums Association, Distinguished Service Award, September 1989
  • Founder of the Salmon River Watershed Restoration Project, 1993
  • Law Courts Education Society of BC, Recognition Award, September 1994
  • Small Business Development for Aboriginal Women, Recognition Award, April 1995
  • Rotary Foundation, Paul Harris Fellow Award, 1996
  • Seacology Foundation (USA), Conservationist of the Year, 1997 (First Aboriginal in North America to receive this award)
  • University of Victoria, Honorary Doctrine Award, June 2000
  • Landsdowne Lecturer, University of Victoria, 2001
  • National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Environmental & Natural Resources, April 2001
  • University College of the Cariboo (now known as Thompson Rivers University), Honorary Doctrine Award, June 2001, for knowledge and healing from traditional Secwepemc plants
  • Queens Golden Jubilee, Recognition Award, 2003
  • Centre of Excellence Award, Medal of Exceptional Contributions, 2004, for Early Childhood Development
  • Nu skin Foundation, Recognition Award, April 2004