December 15th, 2017–A celebration of life was held for recently deceased mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee. CCUIH Director of Partnerships and Programs, April McGill, attended the community viewing to pay her respects on behalf of the Native community, which Ed Lee was a notable advocate and champion for. McGill, on behalf of the American Indian Cultural Center of San Francisco (AICCSF) has worked closely with Lee and his office to establish the annual Native American Heritage Month Celebration where Native community members are honored at City Hall and recognized for their good works and positive impact to the greater community. Mayor Lee would personally participate and honor members of the community, demonstrating a genuine commitment to their youth and leaders. Without a mayor who cared about his Native constituents and neighbors, this would not have been possible.
The San Francisco Native community lost more than just a mayor earlier this week, it also lost a significant voice and ally for Native causes. It is not often that elected officials recognize and actively make the issues facing the Native community one of their interests, especially if they themselves are not Native. Oftentimes, members of the Native community struggle to have their voices heard and causes listened to, often to no avail because their populations in urban areas are seen as being too small to count. But Mayor Lee listened, and beyond that, he acted in response to what he heard. He attended the Friendship House Youth Pow Wow, recognized the need for an American Indian cultural center, and even worked to help the community secure a building they could house it in. It is the exemplary case of Mayor Ed Lee that makes many in the Native community feel his passing with a special sense of loss. We are grateful for the progress that has occurred under Mayor Lee’s stewardship. You will be missed. Rest in peace.