The new chief and council of the Adams Lake Indian Band are offering unity and hope for the future.
“The Band has had a few challenging years with governance issues, but it is now time for us to see where we have come from and move to the future in the best way we can, to unify ourselves for our children and future posterity,” says a press release from the band.
Acclaimed Chief Cliff Arnouse states: “I am honoured to be leading our great team; there is an excitement building and I can say the commitment from our new council will move us forward.”
Arnouse is no stranger to the political realm.
He has served on council for 12 years – the first three from 1995 to ’97, and then from 2006 to 2015.
His experience will help bring stability to the community, he says, combined with his knowledge of culture and language, his strong family values and his many years of hard work in a variety of industries.
“I’m really into the Secwepemc language and culture and traditions,” he emphasizes, explaining that language and culture will be a big part of the band’s future, with elders front and centre.
“They are connected to the land, they go out on the land, they show the children the names, places…, they show them the salmon run… Those are the good things we want to focus on.”
Even through the problems of the past few years, he points out, the Chief Atahm School – the Secwepemc language immersion school, has expanded to include education for grades eight through 10.
Arnouse wants the community to know that chief and council are going to be pushing economic development and “we’ll be open for business.”
“We are going to buckle down and unify and look after our children for the future,” he says. “I’m going to look to economic development opportunities, housing and infrastructure, focus on elders and youth, and we’re going to revisit our comprehensive community plan.”
The band’s press release states: “Moving forward the Band Council commitment is to the membership of ALIB to work hard every day to create a healthy community and meeting the needs of all our people. That ALIB embrace a culture of continuous improvement and moving forward with a solution based approach.”
Joining Chief Arnouse on band council following the March 3 election are councillors Steven Teed, Shelley Witzky, Elaine Jules and incumbents Brandy Jules and Gina Johnny.
Arnouse says he is the first chief to be acclaimed in decades – for years there has been at least one contender and an election to determine the leader. He says with a chuckle that he’d like to think that no one ran against him because of all his experience, not because no one wanted the position.
On March 9, an official swearing-in ceremony was held for the new chief and council, which included honouring past leaders.