Andy and Phyllis Chelsea
Andy and Phyllis Chelsea met during their years spent at the St. Joseph’s Mission School in Williams Lake, BC. The couple married in 1964 but brought the trauma of their school years into their marriage, struggling with alcohol abuse. In 1971, Andy and Phyllis chose sobriety to preserve their family; a decision sparked a lifetime of activism for the couple.
Andy Chelsea was Chief of the Alkali Lake Esk’et First Nation for 27 years, elected soon after he quit drinking in June 1972. During his time as chief, Andy and Phyllis worked to eradicate alcoholism and took steps to overcome the rampant intergenerational trauma that existed for the people of Alkali Lake. Andy and Phyllis’ work both within and outside of the community inspired hundreds of First Nations communities and thousands of Indigenous Peoples around the world toward sobriety, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the USA, and more.
Phyllis received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of British Columbia in 1990. She also received the Order of British Columbia in 1990 for her work in the community, which included: fostering abused and underprivileged children; instituting local services that involved local traditions; reviving the Shuswap language and having it recognized as a credit for entrance at UBC; as well as aiding the development of an Elementary School on the Alkali Lake Reserve.
In January 2017, Andy was diagnosed with untreatable cancer and passed away in June of the same year.
Resolve is the story of the Chelsea family, written by Carolyn Parks Mintz. Carolyn Parks Mintz was chosen by Andy and Phyllis to be their biographer, after being introduced through their daughter, Ivy Chelsea in late 2016.