Victor S. Buffalo OC, AOE, LLD (hon), BAT (hon), Cree
“It’s the resource wealth of Canada that made it the way it is, Lumber, fish, oil: the resources of this country. There’s got to be an equitable distribution.”
Victor Buffalo is a respected Alberta leader and entrepreneur. His pioneering work has helped First Nation businesses across Canada to prosper and thrive. His passion for education has opened new doors for Samson Cree Nation members.
Victor Buffalo was born in Samson Cree Nation (Maskwacis), Alberta. At the age of seven, Victor was sent to Indian Residential School and at the age of twenty, Victor left residential school profoundly affected by the experience and carrying a fierce determination that would shape his life.
In 1964, Victor earned a Diploma in Chemical Technology from SAIT Polytechnic (Calgary) and began working in the field, first for Canada Tungsten Mines and then Canadian Celanese. He was one of the very first native graduates of the school.
Under the late Harold Cardinal of I.A.A. and with the late George Manuel as his mentor, Victor became increasingly involved in community and national politics. In 1980 he was elected Chief of the Samson Cree Nation.
He was one of the guiding forces behind Peace Hills Trust Company, Canada’s first and largest Aboriginal-owned financial institution. Some of the obstacles faced included disbelief that a First Nation could or should operate a bank and the lack of trained Aboriginal managers and staff. By the 30th anniversary in 2011, the institution had grown to include eight branches and some $600 million in assets, as well as an eighty percent plus Aboriginal workforce.
During his terms as Councillor and then as Chief, other economic development opportunities were developed – from Samson Oil and Gas Inc., the Lake Louise Mall and Peace Hills General Insurance. Over the years, Victor has been a member of numerous Boards of Directors. Currently he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the First Nations Grain Management Company doing work primarily in China.
In a recent discussion with Victor, he stated that it is the accomplishments in education of which he is most proud. The thirty million dollar Samson Education Trust Fund encourages Samson Nation members to complete university degrees and trades training. Establishment of four large, state-of-the-art schools while he was Chief removed long bus rides off reserve, while allowing for inclusion of culture in the curriculum.
Chief Buffalo continues to honour his own lifelong commitment to learning by pursuing a university degree online, with a focus on Psychology. He is also working to build up social structures and institutions on the Samson Reserve and develop a strategic plan that will ensure increased stability and opportunities for the members of his Nation well into the future.