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EDITORIAL: Band members wanted change

Byron Louis narrowly won as chief while six out of 10 Okanagan Indian Band councillors are new
A new council is in place for the Okanagan Indian Band for the next two years. (Morning Star file photo)

There’s no question that Okanagan Indian Band members were looking for change.

Byron Louis narrowly kept his position as chief during Wednesday’s election while only four of the six incumbent councillors held on to their jobs.

Essentially there is a a whole new face to the leadership of the OKIB and the six newcomers could significantly change the dynamics of the council and the direction of the band over the two-year term.

But the big question is what motivated band members to pursue change? What were the concerns that took them to the polls? Perhaps it was a lack of employment and economic development or a shortage of housing, while others were focused on transparent governance or titles and rights.

Obviously Louis is going to need to sit down with his council and try to develop a team that can identify the concerns of the members and find concrete solutions. The ability of the veteran and new politicians to unite will largely dictate their overall success.

And while what happens at the council table is important for the Okanagan band community, it is also critical for the overall region. After all, the OKIB has vast tracts of land, including in Vernon and Lake Country, that could be developed, bolstering the economy. As an example, the OKIB are part of a process with the Regional District of North Okanagan and Spallumcheen to possibly bring sewer services to the Swan Lake corridor.

It will be interesting to see what the next two years bring, but we wish the chief and council all of the best as they serve their community.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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