Aboriginal leader Arthur Manuel, who died Wednesday, was a fearless advocate for British Columbia’s indigenous peoples, colleagues said Thursday.

“He worked tirelessly on provincial, national and international issues regarding land claims, human rights and economic rights,” said Judy Wilson, chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, where Manuel, 65, served several terms as chief. “He was always very driven and nothing seemed to ever slow him down. He had a great vision of standing up for our people and was always talking about lifting them out of poverty and becoming the rightful titleholders of (their) indigenous territories.”

A wake and services are planned this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Adams Lake Indian Band gymnasium in Chase.

Manuel, son of the late Grand Chief George Manuel, was the author of Unsettling Canada-A National Wake Up Call and founder of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET), a network of indigenous organizations promoting treaty rights internationally.

In a statement by his family, Manuel was described as “one of our most determined and outspoken Secwepemc leaders and activists — a pillar in the resistance, known globally for his tireless advocacy for Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination.”

They also described him as “a teacher and a mentor to many.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, praised Manuel, who also served as chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, leader and spokesman for the Interior Alliance, and was a member of the UBCIC’s Chief Council.

“Arthur Manuel was, without question, one of Canada’s strongest and most outspoken indigenous leaders in the defence of our indigenous land and human rights,” said Phillip, noting that Manuel travelled extensively “in his unwavering and relentless efforts to champion the cause of our indigenous rights.”

In a statement, Premier Christy Clark called Manuel “one of the first and most-effective advocates of lasting reconciliation, working tirelessly and patiently through organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.”

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan said Manuel “brought his strong and committed voice to the national discussion of justice, land claims and human rights on behalf of British Columbia’s indigenous peoples, and his voice will be missed.”

In 2007, Manuel was quoted in The Vancouver Sun as saying: “We are entitled to some form of benefit from every dollar that’s earned in this country. They have to understand that our land is the basis of the Canadian economy. Without our land, there is no economy.”

In his most recent article on Canada’s 150th celebration, published only a week before his death, Manuel insisted again that Canada was built entirely on the theft of Indigenous lands.

“Our Indian reserves are only .02 per cent of Canada’s land and yet indigenous peoples are expected to survive on them. This has led to the systematic impoverishment of indigenous people and the crippling oppression that indigenous peoples suffer under the current colonial system.”

He is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, his sisters Emaline, Martha, Doreen and Ida, his brothers George, Richard and Ara, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis and Snutetkwe.