It has been a busy four-year term for Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger, but he said he still has more to give as he seeks re-election.
“We have accomplished so much and I want to continue this journey because I’m still driven to create better changes for our community and future generations,” said Kruger. “We are still are not there yet. We still need to take those giant steps in the right direction and I believe with my continued leadership we can go in that direction.”
Kruger is one of six candidates nominated for chief at an Oct. 3 meeting at the Penticton Band Community Hall. Also nominated were: Joseph Pierre (current band councillor), Laurie Wilson (current band councillor), Joe Johnson, Arnold Baptiste and Lavern Jack.
Kruger said he holds the most experience out of all the candidates, having served two terms as a band councillor and the past four as chief.
It was in that time Kruger said he helped the community move forward bu building the first and biggest First Nations daycare in the South Okanagan, the national and international award-winning Outma Squil’xw Cultural School, the fish hatchery initiative, community plan, refurbishing Westhills Aggregates and building a women’s shelter.
“I think we took a balanced approach moving forward setting a strong foundation for our families and our youth,” said Kruger. “These are all the things that I have been a part of and have been honoured and blessed to be a part of through my leadership.”
It is for all those initiatives that Kruger has drawn public support from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip in his re-election bid.
“I think Chief Kruger and council have established some very important relationships both federally and provincially that need to be maintained and strengthened, and you do that through supporting stable and dependable leadership. You don’t change horses mid-stream, I think there is too much at risk to do that,” said Phillip, adding a number of federal cutbacks are having a significant impact on First Nations.
A 21-lot subdivision was also created under Kruger’s term that allowed community members to apply for mortgages, something that has never been done on the PIB.
“All of these things that we have created have been huge for the community. We created these things to be absolutely amazing and we have set the bar so high. I want to keep that bar high. I think it is really important that we keep that standard,” said Kruger.
He said over the past four years the community has been given a strong voice through the community plan.
“It has been such a success story right across Canada, with other First Nations asking how the Penticton Indian Band got the community engagement to create a wish list and a needs list to help leadership prioritize on what they should be spending the money towards,” said Kruger. “It is critical for the community to move forward. We are talking about what land should be developed, what land we protect for our cultural ways and for the environment. Again, it just shows we are taking these strong steps in the right direction and I feel so proud for our community.”
Kruger also wants to see a health building with a gym completed within the next two years so community members can visit doctors and dentists without having to leave the PIB reserve.
“We are talking about building, again moving forward, we are on the cusp of major economic development,” said Kruger.
An all candidates forum has been scheduled for Oct. 17, starting at 7 p.m. at the Penticton Band Community Hall. Campaign speeches will be heard and an opportunity given for band members to present their questions to the candidates. The election will take place on Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the community hall with advanced polls scheduled for Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.