City's relationship with the Penticton Indian Band needs new approach, says council candidate - InfoNews

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City's relationship with the Penticton Indian Band needs new approach, says council candidate

Penticton councillor candidate Jesse Martin has some ideas about relationship building between the city and the Penticton Indian Band.
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October 02, 2018 - 5:00 PM

PENTICTON - A Penticton councillor candidate has some “outside the box” thoughts on how the city can improve its relationship with the Penticton Indian Band.

Jesse Martin spent seven years teaching at Penticton Indian Band’s Outma Squilx’w Cultural School and feels he has some insight.

Martin says rhetoric from other politicians saying Penticton has to expand its industrial lands across the channel won’t help further the cooperative cause between the two governments.

“Its not a respectful approach, and it’s not going to work with present council,” Martin says, adding Chief Chad Eneas is a “super nice guy who is inspiring.”

Martin says there is a historical case for the city making an effort to create a relationship based on friendship first, rather than business.

“The valley has changed a lot in the 150 years since Europeans arrived. That’s not that long when you consider this place used to be the Okanagan’s traditional territory for thousands of years,” he says.

“I think there should be an onus on Penticton to reach out and engage with the Penticton Indian Band. It’s not going to be a 50-50 deal at first, we’re going to have to do the heavy lifting to build the relationship, and it can’t be done as part of a business deal,” Martin says.

“We have to think about how much we’ve changed the land in the relatively short history of this region. We took the most prime pieces of land, and now we need to make this a place for everybody.”

Martin says the former band administration was headed by a chief with a strong business outlook. The present chief and council have taken a different perspective, so the city needs to approach the band from a different perspective.

“If we’re going to extend an open hand, we need to be more open to listening rather than bringing our agenda of business plans when we go in. We need to have open hearts and minds. It’s the only way to get anywhere, by listening and being sensitive rather than coming in and talking about what we’re going to build and where,” he says, adding there needs to be more attention paid to native perspectives on how to take care of the land.

"It’s a different age we’re living in. We made the game, and it’s time to take a more holistic view of things,” Martin says.

Martin says his views are part of his personal beliefs and he will continue to advocate for them whether he is elected or not.


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