Jason Louie is the elected Chief of the Lower Kootenay Band. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

Documentary features Chief Jason Louie

Two days after the first public showing of Seven Days With the Chief at the Tivoli Theatre, a documentary featuring Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie got a standing ovation at a conference in Kimberley.

Filmed and narrated by documentary filmmaker Christopher Horsethief, Seven Days With the Chief was recorded over seven days in 2017-2018 in attempt to illustrate the diverse challenges and issues that Louie deals with on a daily basis.

“I just want it to be the story that most people will never see,” the three-term chief says early in the 35-minute film.

“There’s no light switch that either sheds light on our future or hides our past. It is a tension found in more than one source,” Horsethief, the narrator, says to open the documentary.

“It requires us to constantly survey, consult and shift to meet the needs of both the old and the new. This tension rises when we engage difference, when we breach ideas to generate solutions to basic questions. Who signs cheques, takes out the trash, looks after the land or advocates for our children? Who works toward new schools, better drinking water? Who secures places to pray the way our parents, our grandparents and their grandparents have danced since the beginning of time?

“Unlike many Western leaders, there’s an added obstacle for today’s indigenous decision makers. It’s not enough to make decisions using the same values that have been passed down, offering us blueprints for maintaining our identity in whatever conversation we’re a part of. It also means learning an entirely new language, mastering the skills that our grandparents would have rejected, that their grandparents would likely not have understood.

“It means saying goodbye, going to school and travelling extensively. It means walking in two worlds, one foot planted in the ancient ways and the other traversing boundaries, reaching beyond our comfort zones and trying to master tools from the new world around us. We have to understand the concepts necessary to interface with the global marketplace. Ideals about resources and economic development unheard of just a few generations ago. We understand that surviving in this world means fighting for everything that we have.

“Today’s indigenous leaders need to understand the things that are very old, and also know how to translate those values into foreign conversations. Investment, taxation, funding, planning, budgets, growth, management and so on. Indigenous leaders have had this added layer that helps buffer indigenous ways from western incursion. Standing in the middle of that buffer means you also absorb all of the pressure. You flex, adapt, and you take up that tension. When it pulls, you pull back. And when it hits you it can become crushing.

“You don’t just represent the children living in your community today. You often represent their families, and the families that might resent you, their grandparents that might not even talk to you. And you represent all of their ancestors, who also happen to be your ancestors.

“I’ve worked with one of these leaders, watched him fight battles on many fronts, sometimes with Western structures, colonial powers and foreign decision makers that care little for us. At other times the battles are against our own people who disagree with him. Some are threatened by him. Others don’t think that a young person should hold that position. Yet, he was chosen, and he is dedicated to his job. “Twenty years ago he asked me to serve as his right hand. It’s given me an unprecedented view of the tension that he mediates, the constant pull back and forth, the stress, the joy, the frustration, the reward. When he asked me to collaborate on this project I knew it would be challenging, but I also knew it would be rewarding.”

With visuals including old and new photographs and filmed scenes showing Louie going about the day-to-day business of being a leader of his people, Seven Days With the Chief shows a man who has spent nine years in his position, facing legal and personal attacks led by his father, brother and uncle. It also shows a deeply spiritual, tenacious and determined leader, and a committed father and husband.

“This is my story. It’s not a campaign video, it’s a healing video,” Louie says. “It was our time for the world to know who the Lower Kootenay Band is, to build these bridges, and not these walls.”

Under his leadership, the Lower Kootenay Band school has grown to include a long waiting list of students, and has become popular with the non-indigenous population as well as LKB members. The Band has acquired Ainsworth Hot Springs and Morris Flowers as Louie remains steadfast in his determinatopm to make his community self-reliant.

He is quick to credit other Band Council members and the staff that fills management rolls.

“Our standards are high because we deserve it,” he says. “We shouldn’t have to settle for a mediocre education, a mediocre housing. And I’m not saying ‘me’, I’m saying ‘we’.

“This vision extends beyond tomorrow. It extends beyond next week, next month and next year. We’re talking about generations into the future.”

In a particularly moving scene, Louie speaks directly into the camera.

“It’s not a good day, today. It is April the 4th, 2018, and I am in in a really dark place,” he says. He has just received a summons to appear in court, and the stresses of chronic depression and a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis are having their way.

“It’s moments like right now that I’m really questioning what I’m doing in this job. Is it even worth it?” he says.

After being shown to an invited guest list of about 70 people late in February, Louie and Creston Mayor Ron Toyota were invited to present Seven Days With the Chief and speak at a seminar in Kimberley sponsored by the Local Government Leadership Academy. It was attended by local government and First Nations elected officials and senior administrators in the East Kootenays.

“The documentary got a standing ovation,” Toyota said. “It was a very moving experience and it was a privilege to be there to support Chief Louie.”

Just Posted

Creston man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Police respond to a suspicious occurrence in West Creston

Police received 112 calls for assistance from May 14 to May 23.

New publisher appointed

Brian Lawrence is returning to the Advance to assume a dual role as publisher/sales manager.

Creston Fire Rescue respond to 11 calls from May 14-May 21

Creston Fire Rescue responded to 11 calls from May 14-21 as reported… Continue reading

Fundraiser planned to support Faulks family

A spaghetti dinner and silent auction will be held in the Creston Hotel banquet room on May 26.

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read