The Honourable Alfred (“Alfie”) J. Scow, OC, OBC, of the Kwicksutaineuk-ah-kwa-mish First Nation on Vancouver Island, was born at a time when Aboriginal individuals were prohibited from entering the legal profession, but went on to become the first Aboriginal person to graduate from a BC law school and the first Aboriginal lawyer in BC to be called to the Bar. In 1971, he became the first Aboriginal BC Provincial Court judge, a capacity in which he served until his retirement in 1992. His accomplishments have broken down many barriers and his life has been an inspiration for others to reach their full potential.
He was born April 10, 1927 in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, BC. After completing grade school in Richmond and at Kitsilano High School in Vancouver, Mr. Scow attended UBC where he completed 3 years of a BA and a obtained an LLB degree at the age of 34 (1961). He would later receive an honorary Doctor of Laws (1997) from the Allard School of Law. Mr. Scow was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 and the Order of BC in 2004.
Mr. Scow has demonstrated deep commitment to social justice and volunteered his leadership to many community organizations including UBC, where he helped guide the establishment of First Nations studies. He has served on the university's Senate, the President's Advisory Committee, the Faculty of Law First Nations Advisory Committee, and the Alumni Association board. He is a founding member of the Elders Committee for the First Nations House of Learning.
Prior to becoming a judge, he was City Prosecutor for New Westminster, chair of the board of review for the Workmen's Compensation Board, and completed a two-year assignment to Guyana on the Amerindian Lands Commission fact-finding committee, assisting the government determine land policy in regard to its native population. After leaving the Provincial Court, Mr. Scow's roles have included work on behalf of the Musqueam, Fraser Valley and Penticton Indian bands.
In 2001, he founded The Scow Institute, which works to promote a greater understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people regarding issues that affect all Canadians, using information that is fact-based, non-partisan, and accessible. Mr. Scow has contributed further to his community through volunteer board work for the John Howard Society, United Good Neighbour Fund and Credit Union, BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities, Aboriginal Justice Centre, Pacific Salmon Foundation, YVR Art Foundation, and the Institute of Indigenous Government.
Alfred Scow passed away on February 26, 2013 at the age of 86. He will be remembered as a humble and deeply caring individual who inspired all around him to continue to push boundaries and to strive to reach their greatest potential.
For more, read a Profile of Alfred J. Scow from the UBC Law Alumni Magazine, Summer 2005 and watch the tribute video for his 2012 Allard Law Alumni Association Alumni Achievement Award: