Chief Clarence Louie (right) with MLA Linda Larsen at the unveiling of a youth employment program in 2015. Louie is being honoured by the Town of Oliver with the Freedom of the Municipality in recognition of significant contribution to the development and growth of the Oliver area. Western News file photo

Osoyoos chief honoured by community

The Town of Oliver is bestowing its highest honour on Chief Clarence Louie.

Chief Clarence Louie has received many honours over the years, both in his name and for the Osoyoos Indian Band, but the latest one comes from very close to home.

At a ceremony on Sept. 15, the Town of Oliver is bestowing Freedom of the Municipality on Chief Louie in recognition of significant contribution to the development and growth of the Oliver area.

“It is great to see the band is being recognized in such a way. That is awesome,” said Louie. “They used my name, but it is really the band that is getting this recognition for playing such an important role in the economy that affects the Town of Oliver and region.”

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Louie admits to being surprised there was such an honour. He is only the fourth person to have received the honour, along with Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, former MLA Bill Barisoff and poet George Bowering.

“This is the highest honour the municipality can give an individual,” said Mayor Ron Hovanes. “This award comes with recognition and thanks for the tremendous contribution that Chief Louie has made to our community.”

The decision to bestow Freedom of the Municipality must be a unanimous vote of council, and holders of the honour may vote in Oliver elections no matter where they live, and whether or not they own real estate in the town.

Louie said both communities — the Osoyoos Indian Band and Oliver — have shared a lot over the years.

“We’ve been neighbours for a long time, ever since the town was there,” said Louie. “The economy is always the big issue, but there are the personal relationships and friendships that have been developed over the last many generations.

“Many of our kids graduate from SOSS and attend public school, and we all use the public facilities. It is a great working relationship.”

The ceremony, which is by invitation only, takes place on Sept. 15 in the Frank Venables Theatre Lobby.