To the Editor:
In light of the publicity of the recent Shuswap Band elections and the negative reactions by the public, I think it is time for the residents of this valley to consider and maybe be made aware of the many positive actions of our local Lower Kootenay Band.
Because it is somewhat removed from the town, I doubt that many people ever stop to consider the impact this band has on our local economy. Perhaps the only time most of the residents even think about the reserve is during the annual pow wow. I think it is time that people understand that Lower Kootenay is one of the major employers in this area, not only because of the administration staff but also the school, the social and health programs it runs and the major building projects that directly add to our local economy. There is a new building nearing completion right now that has added literally millions to the local economy. Thanks to a dedicated and hard-working staff, grants were obtained to help pay for the project.
Over the years, there have been many new additions to the reserve that saw many dollars find their way into the economy of the town — some through the local merchants for food, gas and more, some through the building supply stores, and some through local contractors who build the new homes and office complex, upgraded the water facilities and numerous other projects.
The Ktunaxa name has found its rightful place on signs indicating the original names of creeks and reminding people there was a vibrant community here long before any European settlers appeared. The present council and chief have worked hard to raise the profile of the band and have initiated many public events to do so. A few have been their participation in food drives for Gleaners, the bike ride to raise awareness for diabetes, the canoe trip of some of the band members to highlight the past connections to traditional lands in Idaho and their support in the search for doctors, which has been a major topic in Creston. They have entered teams into the various fundraisers that have been held at the rec centre, and have generally supported the Creston community.
There are many things that go on behind the scenes and never make the news but are valuable not only to the band but also to Creston. Lower Kootenay has been evolving since the early 1960s into a forward-thinking, valuable partner with the Town of Creston and the whole valley. Their ability to look ahead to future generations and see the need to preserve the land and resources for their great grandchildren is something we should all be participating in. I, for one, wish them luck and hope they are able to continue to elect strong, forward-thinking leadership that will continue to carry them into their rightful and hard-won place as a strong partner in the future of this valley.