Knowledge Keeper Dr. Barney Williams from the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation is a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, situated in the Tofino area of Meares Island. He is the husband of Trina Williams, a father to six children, and grandfather to nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. Dr. Barney Williams served as Traditional Keeper of the Beach for the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation for over 60 years. In April 2015 this position was passed down to his son, Vincent Williams.
Fluent in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, Dr. Williams continues to live a traditional and cultural lifestyle, and incorporate traditional teaching in the healing of First Nations people, lecturing on mental health from a traditional perspective. His work has included leadership in administrative and clinical fields. Some of his experience includes serving as an Executive Director and Social Service Administrator in varied fields, including Mental health, Home School, Alcohol/drug Programming, and Education. He has been a specialist in counseling work, which focused on areas such as youth, mental health, community prevention, crisis intervention and addictions. One of Dr. Williams’ finest achievements was to involved in the development of a two-year Quasa Counselling Program at Malispina University College. Using his vast experience he has worked with pre and post trauma issues related to the Residential School experience. Throughout his work history he has often acted as a bridge between two cultures to ensure that mutual understanding is achieved for First Nations and European Peoples.
From 2008 to 2015 Dr. Barney Williams had the honour to serve as committee member for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provided cultural and spiritual advice to the commissioners. This experience enhanced his belief in the importance of cultural and healing following the residential experience and the importance of education to future generations stemming from this dark period.
Knowledge Keeper Dr. Barney Williams was honoured in November, 2017 by the University of Victoria with an Honorary Doctorate in Laws. He continues to be affiliated with the University of Victoria and University of British Columbia, and serves as an elder at Vancouver Island University. He continues to work with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation based at the University of Manitoba.