Musqueam band set to elect new chief
Five members of the Musqueam Indian Band are vying to succeed outgoing chief Ernie Campbell in an election set to take place Monday (December 3).
Band councillor Wade Grant, the son of former Musqueam chief Wendy Grant-John and a member of the Vancouver police board, is among the candidates running to replace the long-time leader, who is not seeking reelection.
The other candidates are band councillor Nolan Charles; artist Chrystal Sparrow; Gail Sparrow, who served as Musqueam chief from 1997 to 2000; and Wayne Sparrow, another band councillor.
A total of 48 candidates are running for 10 band council spots, including Cecilia Point and Rhiannon Bennett, who acted as spokespeople during the community’s protest against a proposed condo development at a historic Marpole site earlier this year.
Grant, who has served as a band councillor for eight years, said he’s seeking to “build on the legacy” of outgoing chief Campbell.
“I think Ernie has laid a foundation for the next generation to pick up the torch, and I hope to be a part of that as we move forward with things like Block F development, which are going to be important for improving the standard of living for our community,” he said in a phone interview.
The Musqueam are proposing a development on an 8.9-hectare parcel of land known as Block F along University Boulevard near the University Golf Club, which was transferred to the band as part of a 2008 reconciliation agreement with the B.C. government.
A public meeting is set to take place December 6 on the proposal, which involves a mix of low- to mid-rise buildings of up to 10 or 12 storeys, retail space, and potentially a boutique hotel. One-point-two hectares of the land would remain park space.
According to Grant, the main goal of the project is economic development for the First Nation.
“[The Musqueam want] not to be dependent on government funding, which is inadequate at the moment to help our community members with different programs that a lot of them really want to attach to, with respect to things like housing and education,” Grant said.
Musqueam members will also be voting on the Musqueam Land Code, designed to give the First Nation greater control over its reserve land.