Descendants of Grand Chief Bernard Robert Charles, members of Semiahmoo First Nation, and community residents gathered to honour the memory and confirm the name of “Grand Chief Bernard Robert Charles (Pa-Kwach-Tun) Memorial Plaza” at White Rock’s east beach today.
Grand Chief Charles was a widely respected leader of the Semiahmoo First Nation as well as the broader community and province. Elected chief at age 22 to succeed his father (also named Bernard Charles), Grand Chief Charles was one of the youngest chiefs in Canada. Born on the Semiahmoo First Nation’s land on October 14, 1941, he attended school in White Rock, graduated from Semiahmoo Secondary School, and earned his law degree from UBC.
Following law school, Grand Chief Charles used his law education to set up an Indigenous community law office on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Known as a committed advocate for his people and also for the larger First Nations community, Chief Charles worked tirelessly to improve education and understanding of First Nations’ culture.
In 2009, the plaza was named and dedicated in honour of the late Chief who passed away in 2008. Unfortunately, its renaming was not properly acknowledged. In December 2019, White Rock City Council adopted a resolution to officially confirm the plaza name as “Grand Chief Bernard Robert Charles (Pa-Kwatch-Tun) Memorial Plaza” and directed that plaza signage be amended to reflect this.