WFN gets fresh face on council

Chris Derickson was voted into Westbank First Nation council by members during the band's Aug. 24 by-election.

Newly appointed WFN Coun. Chris Derickson

Newly appointed WFN Coun. Chris Derickson

Westbank First Nation Coun. Chris Derickson has an impressive resume; however, he doesn’t have political experience.

But that didn’t seem to matter to members as they voted him into power during the band’s Aug. 24 by-election.

Derickson beat out 11 other candidates for the position, including former councillor, Brian Eli.

“It wasn’t a surprise to a lot of people, but it was to me. You never know how it’s going to turn out on election day,” said Derickson.

Derickson said there will be a significant learning curve for him to adjust to, but he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“You hit the ground running with this job, so you’ve just got to learn to keep up with the rest of them, get familiarized with the issues and hopefully contribute something.”

The new WFN councillor said he’s always been interested in serving the public, but he wasn’t sure if other commitments would get in the way.

Derickson will begin a master’s program at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning in September. He will also be busy doing research—a project he was awarded an aboriginal graduate fellowship to conduct.

He said he had to check with the school to ensure he could balance regular studies, research and local government responsibilities at the same time.

“They’re willing to work with that, so I gave it a run and here I am.

“It was always my intention to serve my community, to work for my community.”

The “third or fourth cousin” of former Chief Ron Derrickson has served in several capacities over the past 16 years, including past chair of the WFN Economic Development Commission, community planning coordinator and chair of the WFN Allotment Commission.

Although his background in politics is limited, Derickson has experience working with council members. He facilitated their last strategic planning retreat and put together their most recent strategic plan.

The Vancouver native said it is his mission to make sure members are looked after.

“I’d like to continue to build on creating a great, dynamic sense of community within Westbank First Nation.

“We have a strong council here and an excellent chief. I’m looking forward to working with all of them.”

According to Chief Robert Louie, the feeling is mutual.

“We are proud to have Chris Derickson join the council team. Chris brings a great deal of knowledge and enthusiasm to the table—we look forward to working together to achieve continued success for the community.”

Kelowna Capital News