Penticton Indian Band's newly elected chief hopes to unite, improve communications | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton Indian Band's newly elected chief hopes to unite, improve communications

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel was elected by the band on Monday night, Oct. 19, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Penticton Indian Band
October 24, 2020 - 2:31 PM

Newly elected Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel says his priorities are addressing issues of unrest and division within the band as he begins to settle into his new role.

Gabriel won the Oct. 19 election for Chief, beating controversial incumbent Chad Eneas, who served a single term.

“I want to work hard to bring the community back together, get them more informed on community, political and social issues. I think that’s one of the key issues that’s been missing in the past four years,” Gabriel said in an interview today, Oct. 22.

“Moving forward, the leadership of the band has to have more engagement in the community when major decisions are made, so the community has their input, they’re informed of issues and are allowed to provide feedback to those issues.”

Asked about the band’s position regarding a proposed subdivision on Spiller Road northeast of Penticton, he said the development is in their traditional territory and is an area with great significance to the First Nation.

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band voices disapproval of proposed Spiller Road subdivision

"I know from teachings of elders and from previous chiefs there is a lot of cultural and heritage significance in the areas around Naramata and Chute Lake... There’s a lot of history that comes with those lands,” he said.

Gabriel said he doesn’t want to start discussions with outside agencies or organizations until the election process for council has wrapped up. He has completed his exit as the Lower Similkameen Indian Band manager. He also wants to finish the transition with the Penticton band's administration.

"We’ll probably begin meetings and discussions with different organizations and agencies early next year,” he said.

When it comes to development of locatee lands on the west side of the Okanagan River channel, Gabriel said he is supportive of development “as long as it’s done in a good way and a good manner.”

“I support individual band members wanting to start a business, as long as it’s a good fit for the community,” he said.

Gabriel said recent implementation of the new subdivision development bylaw has caused a lot of reaction from community members.

"That was one of the decisions made without community engagement and input, so we need to maybe start reviewing these issues, with direction from the community,” he said.

As far as the official communications with the general public, Gabriel said any official communications, including statements about the band’s position on issues, would be done with full involvement of the council.

“Some of the things we discuss and decide on within the Penticton Indian Band is the band’s own business. If there are bigger issues that need to go to the general public, we’ll do that with the band council,” he said.


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