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Friends, colleagues remember former chief of Cowichan Tribes

Squtxulenuhw William “Chip” Seymour has died
Squtxulenuhw William “Chip” Seymour, who served four terms as Cowichan Tribes’ chief, has died. (Citizen file photo)

Squtxulenuhw William “Chip” Seymour, who served four terms as Cowichan Tribes chief from 2013 to 2022, has died.

Lydia Hwitsum, Cowichan Tribes’ current chief, said Seymour, who was 73, was a beloved member of the Cowichan community.

“He championed our Quw’utsun Tumuhw, or Land Code, so that we could have control over our lands,” she said.

“It was an important self-governance initiative that was passed in 2019. Our community has lost a valuable contributor, someone who was deeply committed to defending Cowichan Tribes’ rights and title, lifting up and sharing our culture, and improving opportunities for our people. On behalf of our council, I extend our condolences to Chip’s family and all Quw’utsun Mustimuhw as we mourn this loss”.


During his time as chief, Seymour’s priorities centred around education, employment, training, culture, housing, and working to re-establish a sense of hope among young people.

Prior to 2013, he served Cowichan Tribes as operations and maintenance manager.

Generations of Quw’utsun Mustimuhw also benefited from Seymour’s many decades of coaching the Cowichan Eagles soccer team, training coaches, and travelling to international competitions.

According to a press release from Cowichan Tribes, Seymour lived the Quw’utsun snuw’uy’ulh (teachings) through his leadership, his service to the community, and his generosity of spirit.

“He was an advocate and steady voice for our people during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing people together in the face of racism, implementing necessary shelter-in-place restrictions to protect Elders, and supporting partnerships to provide temporary shelter at the Mound for our most vulnerable citizens,” the release said.


Debra Toporowki, a former councillor with Cowichan Tribes, said she knew Seymour for many years, back to the time when he was a soccer coach and an operations and maintenance manager.

She said he was a personal friend and a great leader of the First Nation.

“He was a kind and great man and his loss leaves a huge hole in the community,” Toporowski said.

“He always made people feel welcome, but he was firm when he needed to be. I’m still reeling from the news. There’s a feeling of sorrow that’s being felt by the entire community.”

North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas said Seymour’s death is a big loss for his family, Cowichan Tribes and the broader community.

“I’ve known him for many years and he was always someone who looked out for the best interests of his community and meaningful reconciliation,” he said.

“When I was first elected to council, we had many conversations and I always appreciated his insights.”

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said Seymour was a gift to leadership and community.

She said his style was calm and respectful, his words wise and his values deeply rooted in culture.

“Chief Seymour believed we were better together and was deeply committed to relationship building,” Staples said.

“It has been a true blessing and honour to know him. He will be deeply missed. We will be forever grateful for all he shared and to have walked with him in this world.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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