Grace George is hoping to bring her community together during her second term as Katzie chief after being acclaimed for the top job at a nomination meeting on Tuesday.
About 40 members attended the meeting to nominate both chief and council. There were no other nominees for the position of chief , meaning George is automatically elected and will be able to skip the campaigning process.
George said she was humbled and delighted to have been voted in by acclamation.
“It speaks to me in many ways, but most of all the members must be content with the vision and leadership thus far and that makes me happy,” said George.
During her first term, George created eight additional portfolios – on top of the six already divided by council – ensuring, she said, that all community priorities were “in motion.”
George said she also reorganized departments so staff could better manage priorities. New departments included human resources and economic development. And, she increased access to training opportunities, as well as adding senior level positions.
In her next term, George said she is most looking forward to bringing their three communities together – those in Pitt Meadows, Langley and Barnston Island in Surrey, through programming, ceremonies, and community gatherings, in general. She wants to incorporate cultural ceremony and host many gatherings throughout the year so the community can, “share time and celebrate.”
“There’s physical separation, which, kind of creates some obstacles,” said George, who is also looking forward to working with all municipal city councils – including those in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
“We have continued to strive to ensure we are connected and that Katzie has a voice at these tables,” said George. They are continuing to work on other areas of “reconciliation,” as well.
George also wants to continue building out their newly created economic department.
“It’s important because we need to really strive to ensure that we are committed to building out sustainability for our community needs and also creating avenues for self-sufficiency,” she said, explaining they need to create their own revenue streams and their own economic development revenue streams, so they can fill the gaps they have within their community.
K and K Forestry Operations Lts., which stands for Katzie and Kwantlen, George said, is one of their successes during her past term. She said she is now looking forward to creating employment opportunities and, “own-source revenue with accessing their own timber licence.”
And George is looking forward to continuing the work of council on the establishment of health programs that support the community mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
George said they will have their own pharmacy opening very soon and have already built a new wellness centre on Barnston Island, giving the community greater access to mental health and addictions support.
Other work George would like to see continue during her next term is the creation of a framework which will support transparency and policy and procedure for their financial administration.
“We currently don’t have one,” George explained.
She also wants to create a committee to review and enhance the Katzie election code and a separate committee to review and enhance the membership code.
In addition to increasing revenues and business opportunities for the community, George would also like to continue the work of council, determining priorities for their new incremental self government – a new system they created to replace the historic treaty process.
“We are currently working with provincial and federal government to support the priorities that we have set for rights and title,” she said.
Finally, George would like to create a new language department.
“Our language is our most original part of our culture,” said George, adding that a handful of their members have been able to successfully maintain their language. Two – who have been teaching the Katzie language for many years – even graduated with their masters in linguistics last year .
Now, George said, they have managed to secure funding to be able to offer the program to adults and other community members.
There are currently six people running for three councillor positions. They will be elected on Feb. 27.
An inauguration ceremony, taking place at the end of April, will be open to the public. It will include a cultural ceremony followed by a feast.
Last year more than 200 people attended the gathering.