Chief Clarence Jules Sr. was born in 1926 on the Kamloops Reserve and was raised on his father’s farm. He attended the Indian Residential School until he reached the ninth grade. While at the school he milked the cows and looked after the horses. When he was 14, he asked his father for a quarter to buy jeans. He was told to go get a job. He left school, worked haying for a rancher, milked cows by hand at a dairy, and spent seven years working at the Palmer Ranch.
In 1952, Chief Jules married Delores Casimir and continued to work on area ranches. They had nine children together. He worked as a range rider for the band, farmed hay and cattle and as stated in his induction to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2010 “always had a nice string of horses.”
He worked hard for his family. As he said about working on the range “The hours were kind of rough on my wife, though, I often had to get up at two and three in the morning.” Perhaps his most famous quote about working hard was “You can’t fix a flat tire by yelling at it.”
He was more, however, than a hardworking cowboy. As he said in 2010, “I think I was more of a Chief and Councillor than a cowboy.”
Chief Jules led the Kamloops Indian Band (now Tk’emlups te Secwepemc) from 1962-1971. He improved the irrigation system and started a band farm, hosted the founding meeting of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in 1969 and advocated for First Nation owning their lands.
Perhaps his greatest legacy goes back to 1962 when his council passed a by-law to establish the Mount Paul Industrial Park – the first industrial park on First Nation lands. Chief Jules made sure the necessary infrastructure was built, and he personally convinced a number of businesses to invest and lease land on the reserve. His powers of persuasion must have been impressive, because securing a property right on Indian land in the 1960s was difficult. Lessees faced uncertainty about tenure, lease registration, tax liability, and local service provision; moreover, they had plenty of options on non-Indian lands. It is a testament to his vision that the Mount Paul Park has grown from 11 original businesses in 1964 to over 150 today, with annual sales of over $250 million. If there were a hall of fame for business deals, it would include Chief Clarence Jules, Sr.
Chief Clarence Jules Sr. recognized very early that First Nations needed business on their lands and that the Indian Act system was getting in the way. When leasing was just starting on the Mount Paul Industrial Park he said, “We provide the services and the province collects the taxes. We should collect the taxes to pay for better services and infrastructure. Otherwise we can’t compete for business.” He was a very patient but determined man. It took twenty years for the federal government to catch up to him and pass the Kamloops Amendment of the Indian Act (Bill C-115) that gave Tk’emlups the property tax authority, largely due to his hard work and that of his son Manny. This created the modern First Nation tax system. During the White Paper consultations of 1968, he was asked about how the Indian Act should be changed. His answer is still relevant today:
“We feel that we are in a better position to judge the needs of our people than officials of the Department located in Ottawa. We point out that much of the dissatisfaction with the present Act arises from the lack of power and authority to Band Councils. To give just one illustration: We operate an Industrial Subdivision on part of our reserve and lease lots in the Sub-division to various individuals and companies. Before a lease can be granted not only must the Band Council pass its resolution but the lease is then routed through the Kamloops Indian Agency, then to the Vancouver office and finally to Ottawa. The same process is followed on the return trip.
We can document instances where months have gone by before a lease is finally issued. In many cases by the time the lease has been returned the lessee has gone elsewhere because people today require almost instantaneous decisions. These delays cost us money and we don’t like it. There must be a change to grant more power and authority to Indian Band Councils. After all, our Indian people elect us to represent them; they do not elect officials of the Indian Department.” (November 1968, Kelowna, BC)
His ability to build bridges between communities, people and governments created the foundation for over $2 billion in investment in First Nations and over $1 billion in taxes collected by First Nations across Canada. It has led to thousands of jobs and many agreements between First Nations and governments. As he said, “We are here, we should all live together.” In September 2009, he was honoured by the First Nations Tax Administrators Association for his contribution to First Nation taxation. This was a well-deserved honor. Many recognize that without his work, devotion to family and dedication to establishing First Nation jurisdiction there would be no First Nation tax system, no First Nations Tax Administrators Association and no First Nations Fiscal Management Act. His work has made a difference in many people’s lives. He loved people and they loved him because he was coming from a very special place. Nobody could ever forget the twinkle in his eye, and the relish in his chuckle, when he told a particularly good story. But they were never just stories. He treated everyone with honesty and respect and there was always a lesson or a helping hand. Thank you Chief Clarence Jules Sr. You will be dearly missed and never forgotten. Your legacy will live on.
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