New Skidegate council to build momentum

Before 9 a.m. on the morning after they were elected, Skidegate’s new band council was already at work.

 

 

Before 9 a.m. on the morning after they were elected, Skidegate’s new band council was already at work.

“We had to do things right away,” said returning Chief Councillor Billy Yovanovich, who ran unopposed.

At their first meeting after the March 15 election, Duane Alsop was named Skidegate’s deputy chief councillor, and everyone on the eight-member council talked about what portfolios to take on.

Even with three new members — Trent Moraes, Michelle Pineault, and Robert Russ — Yovanovich said this council brings a lot of experience.

Returning councillors include Duane Alsop, David Crosby, Lyndale George, and Michelle McDonald.

“I don’t anticipate much of a transition period,” said Yovanovich.

“I think we’re going to be pounding the pavement right away.”

When he was first elected as a councillor in 2010, Yovanovich said Skidegate faced a tough financial picture.

“We’ve turned it right around to where we’re in good financial shape now.”

Last term, the council oversaw a spending review, secured funding from Gwaii Trust, and began collecting some revenue from Skidegate’s pole plant — a joint venture with Taan Forest that started in 2012.

Given the capital loan and equipment financing needed for start-up, Yovanovich said the plant will be more profitable in the future, but it’s already providing jobs.

Council has also made good on its woodlot in recent years, logging at low cost thanks to a nearby forestry road built by Taan.

“They were quite gracious giving us road access, and we did well on the first cut,” said Yovanovich.

“We’re looking to do a second cut any time now, and log prices have increased substantially.”

Along with solid finances, the last council helped install heat pumps at nearly 350 homes — a village-wide project that grew from an effort to help elders switch off wood heat.

“It’s a big project we were all quite proud of,” said Yovanovich.

“There’s not too many initiatives where we can offer something to the whole community.”

Trent Moraes was Skidegate’s director of Lands, Energy and Housing at the time, Yovanovich added, so he is well suited to take on future energy projects, which may include solar installations or geothermal heating for the Kay Centre.

Speaking of the other new councillors, Yovanovich said Robert Russ has a wealth of fisheries knowledge, and brings much experience from his years of work with the Council of the Haida Nation.

“He’s been on the water all his life.”

Meanwhile, Michelle Pineault did a lot of work with youth in Skidegate as part of the band’s social development department.

“With some of our social issues right now, I think she’s going to be a real asset there, and she’s quite passionate about that,” said Yovanovich.

“We can never do enough for our youth.”

On that note, Yovanovich said one of the most important things the last Skidegate council did was to support the 14 Haida language learners now studying to be certified teachers.

“We’re very fortunate to have the active, fluent speakers we have,” said Yovanovich, speaking of the elders, many of whom are in their eighties, who continue to teach Haida at schools, the nursery school and daycare, as well as being the go-to people for translations and Haida words at SHIP (Skidegate Haida Immersion Program).

“We start taking it for granted — they’ve been so dedicated — but it’s become a reality that they’re not going to be able to continue forever,” he said, adding that he is amazed at the dedication of the 14 student teachers now two years into a teaching program offered through a partnership with UNBC.

Yovanovich said when he goes to off-island conferences, he often meets leaders from First Nations communities where people still live under a daily boil-water advisory.

That’s not at all the case in Skidegate, which has a world-class water treatment plant and an operator, Johnny Smith, whose work has won a provincial award.

“There’s a lot of things from previous councils that brought us where we are today,” said Yovanovich.

“I think we all feel pretty proud of our community — we care for it as well as we can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Seven arrested in drug trafficking investigation

Queen Charlotte RCMP arrested seven people in connection to a drug trafficking… Continue reading

QC, Port commit to electric car infrastructure

Municipalities opt in for Hwy. 16 charging network

More sailings coming to Haida Gwaii

The B.C. government says Haida Gwaii’s two BC Ferries routes are among… Continue reading

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Mold shuts down construction at QC supportive housing project

Construction of the new 19-unit modular housing complex in Queen Charlotte has… Continue reading

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Most Read