Newly elect Chief Greg Gabriel’s personal priority is uniting the members of the Penticton Indian Band.
“There’s a lot of division in our community right now,” said Gabriel in an interview with the Western on Oct. 20. “I observed over the past four years that the leadership was disengaged with the community. There was a lack of communication on a lot of issues and decision-making.”
“One of the key issues is to start communicating better with the membership. We need to hear their voice, we need to have their input and engage with them, on a lot of decisions that need to be made.”
Gabriel was sworn in on Oct. 20 after being elected by 107 of the 358 ballots cast during the election.
Incumbent chief Chad Eneas, Brian Mitchell Jack, Tim Lezard, and Joseph Pierre all ran in the election.
Gabriel believes that it was his 35 years of experience as the band administrator that encouraged members to choose him.
“There’s no doubt it’s an honour to be chosen, they put their confidence and trust in me to carry out the job of bringing them together over the next four years,” said Gabriel. “I served under numerous chiefs where I gained a lot of experience and knowledge. I think the other candidates ran a strong campaign. They were just as qualified as I was, and the community made their decision.”
Following the election of a new chief, the Penticton Indian Band is moving to elect a new council, accepting nominations on Oct. 20 for the eight positions.
This year there were 25 nominations for the council positions, with five current council members, incumbent chief Chad Eneas, and Tim Lezard among them.
“Once the process is complete, the work will begin and we’ll look at priorities together,” said Gabriel. “My priority is to bring the community back together, and to bring more confidence and pride back into the Penticton Indian Band.”
In his first official statement, Gabriel said that the Penticton Indian Band stands in solidarity with the Miꞌkmaq people in Nova Scotia, and called on government officials to stand up and take action to resolve the issues there.
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