Chris Derickson

Christopher Derickson outlines his priorities as newly elected Westbank First Nation chief

Supporting the local economy and revitalizing their language are top priorities

Chris Derickson is ready to tackle the issues and priorities important to Westbank First Nation as their newly elected chief.

Derickson was recently elected with 376 votes being cast during the WFN’s general election on Sept. 19. Four new band councillors were also elected.

Christopher Raymond Derickson elected new chief of Westbank First Nation

Derickson said he’s still full of emotion after his election victory.

“It’s still sinking in,” said Derickson.

“People call me chief and I forget to respond. We’re all overwhelmed by it, but we’re all very supported by our members.

“I’m looking forward to a great three years.”

Making sure the band’s economy remains sustainable is just one item Derickson wants to address during his first term as chief.

“My priority is ensuring all of our members are looked after.

“Aside from that, we also have 10,000 non-member residents and 500 businesses on our reserve.

“We want to make sure the economy we’ve built here continues to flourish.”

Westbank First Nation generated $1 billion in gross domestic product last year, according to their website, contributing $117 million in direct revenue to the reserve from operating businesses.

Derickson said revitalizing their language is also on the top of his agenda.

“I think all of council is behind revitalizing our language and putting more of a focus on our culture.

“We want to get more fluent speakers in our membership. That’ll be a very high priority for us.”

At the opening of the newly-renovated sənsisyustən House of Learning Elementary School last Thursday, Derickson said he’d like to turn the facility on Quail Road into a full-immersion nsyilxcən language school one day.

Westbank First Nation is one of seven Indigenous communities that make up the Okanagan Nation where the nsyilxcən language is spoken.

The new chief and councillors were officially sworn into their new positions at an oath of office ceremony Sept. 24.


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

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