Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie has become the first Creston Valley recipient of a BC Community Achievement Award.
Louie is among 34 recipients who will receive the provincial recognition for 2013 at a ceremony at Government House in Victoria on March 14. Also to be honoured from the Kootenays is Tom Lymbery, longtime owner of Gray Creek Store.
“The community achievement awards honour individuals who have made a significant contribution either as volunteers or in the course of their work,” said Keith Mitchell, chair of the BCA Foundation, in announcing the 2013 recipients. “We’re privileged to showcase and celebrate the contributions of these exceptional British Columbians.”
Louie, in his second year as LKB chief, said that the award was completely unexpected.
“When I received the news I was going to be awarded the BC Achievement Award I was and am surprised,” he said. “I am honoured and humbled by the award and will do my very best to represent not only the Lower Kootenay Band but also the Creston Valley.”
Louie’s nomination was made by LKB chief operating officer Linda Berg, who wrote that he “has openly shared the culture, language and traditions (of the LKB) with anyone, and does it in an inviting and friendly way.
“He has also taught new staff of Lower Kootenay Band about the culture, language and traditions. Jason is passionate when he speaks about preserving the language and culture.”
Two supporters of the nomination both have expressed hope they will be able to attend the March 14 presentation. Creston Mayor Ron Toyota and Regional District of Central Kootenay chair and Area B director John Kettle both work with Louie and his council on matters of importance to the Creston Valley.
“Chief Louie has demonstrated a genuine and strong desire to build an open community with the residents of the entire Creston Valley,” Toyota said. “Our council and staff continue to participate in Lower Kootenay Band functions like the powwow and general assembly, and their council and staff have participated in many town functions.
“Chief Louie has been instrumental in opening the dialogue within his community and involving our town, the regional district, RCMP, local fire departments, Canadian and U.S. border services, and several local volunteer groups and organizations.”
Kettle said he has known Louie for 15 years and that he admires the perseverance and dedication to bettering the economic and social life of LKB members.
“One of the most outstanding attributes of this gentleman is his dogmatic adherence to his history and to the traditions and language of his people,” Kettle said. “His respect for the wisdom and words of his elders and the ‘old ways’ have resulted, in my opinion, in a contiguous lineage by blending the old and the new while not losing the languages and traditions of his people.
“In a day and age where everything is ‘high-tech, it is humbling to see people led by a young chief embracing the new paradigms while celebrating customs, tradition and language as a fundamental part of their existence.”
Humility and receiving awards don’t always go together well, Louie said.
“It is difficult to speak of this honour as our Ktunaxa traditions dictate that we do not speak in a manner that may appear that of boasting. I came from humble beginnings and my mentors instilled ethics of hard work, dedication, and to always do the right thing even when no one is looking.
“I will keep the past and present citizens of Yaqan Nukiy in my heart as I receive this award. Yaqan Nukiy, the Creston Valley and this great country have given me everything. I will continue to volunteer and contribute to the land that has given us clean water, roots, berries, medicines and wild game.
“I thank those who nominated me and although a warrior should never bow his head I will do so when accepting the award to demonstrate I am humbled. I thank Yaqan Nukiy and the Creston Valley.”