A newly elected chief of a semi-remote Indigenous community southwest of Williams Lake is eager to continue advancing the B.C. treaty process.
Hillary (Hank) Adam was elected for a four-year term as chief of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek-Dog Creek) on Oct. 7 replacing past Chief Patrick Harry.
“I’m feeling OK about it,” Adam said. “When you take on a position such as the one I have now there’s a lot of work.”
Prior to the 2014 adoption of a new bylaw, chiefs would only serve a two-year term. Adam had served six such terms in the past with his last term having wrapped up in 2012.
Preceding the election Adam had worked as the senior treaty manager for the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council who had honoured him with a farewell luncheon on Oct. 22.
“My goal is to close out on an agreement with the B.C. Treaty Process within the next four years,” Adam said, noting he would leave any decision on opting out of the process up to the community.
“In my experience over the years there are reconciliation agreements outside the treaty process but really those are short-term fixes. In my view, the treaty process is a longer-term fix in terms of our vision moving forward.”
That vision is one of economic prosperity and self-governance that supports each of the nation’s approximately 700 to 800 on and off-reserve members.
Adam said one of their biggest challenges is building capacity and retaining resources in the community —both of which have been restricted by the Indian Act.
Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation is one of four First Nation communities in B.C.’s Central Interior seeking to complete treaty negotiations. Others include Xat’sull (Soda Creek), Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake) and T’exelc (Williams Lake).