Born in 1946, Alex is a proud member of the Musgamagwx Dzawada’enuwx First Nations in Kincome Inlet. At age seven, he was taken away from family and community and became a seven-year product and survivor of St. Michaels Residential School in Alert Bay. Today, he maintains a strong family foundation with his wife Nella of 45 years, daughter Natasha, grandsons Gigalis and Braden and great-grandson Marcus. His strong cultural background has been reinforced through his father Henry Nelson’s Chieftainship and by the Nelsons’ past four Potlatches. Alex is also a Hamatcha Cedar Man Dancer.
Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Leisure Studies from the University of Victoria. He is an Elder and Senior Advisor to the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council, and helped create the then-Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Strategy for BC (the first strategy of its kind in Canada).
Past Executive Director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Alex is a founder of the Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Association of BC - at that time the only “recognized” Aboriginal sport organization in Canada. He is also a founder of the National Aboriginal Sports Circle and was the first Chair and three-time President of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Council. He has served as Aboriginal Team BC Chef de Mission for the 1993 and 1995 North American Indigenous Games, Board Member of the Native Participation Committee for the 1994 Commonwealth Games and member of the Minister's Sport & Recreation Advisory Council of BC.
One of his greatest and proudest achievements was helping organize the 1997 NAIG in Victoria which drew over 5,000 athletes, 3,000 cultural performers and 2,500 volunteers on a budget of only $2.5 million!
Alex is also a Level 1 Soccer Coach with 40+ years’ experience coaching youth and adult Aboriginal soccer teams. He helped expand the Victoria T-Bird Soccer Club to include women and five youth age groups. As an athlete, he has received many All-Star awards including gold medals in Soccer at the 2009 and 2016 BC Senior Games and he currently plays on a "65 & Over" team in the Vancouver Island Soccer League.
Alex knows that connection, ceremony and a sense of belonging are important to children so he has dedicated his life to helping youth as a founder of the Kwaguilth Urban Suicide Prevention & Intervention Group, where he has conducted community and self-help suicide prevention workshops for 18 years. He also lectures on Aboriginal issues to universities, high schools, communities and at conferences.
Other awards Alex has received include the Queen's 125th Commemorative Medal for Community Services, the 1998 C-FAX Runner-up Sports Person Community Award, the 1998 Victoria Sports Leader of the Year Award and City of Victoria 2002 Honourary Citizen. He also was a 2010 Olympic Torch Relay carrier.
Sport has always been a vehicle for freedom and healing for Alex: "My responsibility is to give to the next generation what sport has given to me.”
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