Carl Archie sees himself as the “next generation” of Indigenous leaders.
Archie, 31, will join the Canim Lake Band as a councillor, following an election Dec. 19. Elected alongside him were Jessie Archie, with 63 votes, and Delores Theodore Archie with 78 of the votes, who will join him on council after a 30-day appeal period. The council’s current members include Chief Helen Henderson and councillors Chris Amut, Mary-Anne Archie and Stanley Daniels.
Archie said he was motivated to run for council by his friends across the country who are currently doing cool things for their communities and a desire to revive and promote the Secwepemc culture and identity amongst his people.
“Tsq’escen’ has a legend about a young man who travelled the world and came home to help his community,” Archie said, “I was inspired by this and other Secwepemc legends. I was also inspired by my Indigenous friends across Canada who are also young professionals and working to revive their languages and cultures.”
Archie, a young entrepreneur with a degree in economics from Thompson River University, is no stranger to politics or Indigenous issues after working as a treaty negotiator.
This work includes making recommendations to the governments of Canada and New Zealand in July 2020 on increasing Indigenous trade between the two countries. In 2018, meanwhile, he guided the Secwepemc Nation to obtaining a seat at the table in the Columbia River Treaty talks between the United States and Canada.
Going into this election Archie said he didn’t know what to expect but was thrilled to see his platform resonate with the community. He ended up receiving 59 votes of the 187 cast by members of the band. The Canim Lake band has a population of 608 and elects half of their councillors every two years, to ensure continuity in governance.
Archie said he’s looking forward to learning the role of councillor and gaining experience in the position. Previously he’s served as an elected member of the Board for Thompson Rivers University and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers.
Archie credits his success to his family and the Canim Lake Band for investing in him. The Band paid for his Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics while elders made him a fluent Secwepemctsin speaker.
“They also provided me with a lifetime of opportunities, from 4-H to Hockey. I came home to pay it forward,” Archie said.
Reviving Secwepemc culture is going to be one of the main things he focuses on once he takes office. Specifically, Archie plans to host a Secwepemctsin naming ceremony for each one of the Band members. He feels this will help strengthen the community’s bonds with both one another and their heritage, which was stripped away by the residential school program.
“It will probably be a community-driven process (the naming ceremony) and we’ll have to see how our community members move forward with that,” Archie said. “Historically, Secwepemc people received names at specific times in their lives and it strongly determined their identity and goals in the community. I know as Secwepemc people we had a role for everybody and we have a lot of community in our community, particularly our youth, who feel lost and having these names given to them by our elders can provide purpose and motivation.”
He also plans to advance reconciliation in the region by reaching out to local organizations such as the District of 100 Mile House and School District 27 to work together and ensure they’re aware they’re operating on the Canim Lake Band’s traditional territory. As a treaty negotiator, Archie is confident that should their case be recognized, his people will become the largest landowners in the region again one day and will be consequential decision-makers as a result.
Henderson said she looks forward to governing with Archie and the other electees and wishes the former council members the best in their journey.