Nelson Leon, former Chief of Adams Lake Indian Band, Secwepemc Nation, today announced his candidacy for the position of regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations.
“The regional chief needs to be the catalyst for advancing the recognition and implementation of aboriginal title and rights inclusive of treaty rights on the ground,” Leon stated in a news release. “The recent Tsilhqot’in decision declaring aboriginal title, the Mount Polly disaster and the accelerated rate of resource development make it imperative that First Nations take a lead role in decision making of land based activities.
“Not only is our way of life affected but also the quality of our life, and what we have to pass on to our children.”
Nelson Leon served 16 years as an elected official in his community, the last nine as chief. During his term as chief he was also a board member of the BC Assembly of First Nations, and the president of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council. He also served on the All Nations Trust as a board member, advancing the development of First Nations financial institute and aboriginal business.
For seven years concurrently he owned and operated a silviculture business and was the program manager for the Shuswap Training and Employment Program, providing training and employment opportunity for First Nations.
“The passive role that both the federal and provincial government take in addressing the reconciliation of aboriginal issues is unacceptable – it is a delay tactic that sees both governments benefit at the expense of First Nation communities and the lives of First Nation people of B.C.,” he said. “Social indicators such as academic achievement, state of health, unemployment rates and annual income paint a clear picture of social injustice maintained by both governments.
“As regional chief I would, for the First Nation Leadership of B.C. work to build the relationship necessary with government to address the outstanding issues, and improve the quality of life that the Creator intended for our people.”
Leon’s focus as B.C. Regional Chief would include:
• Advancement of Declarations of Aboriginal Title throughout B.C.; • Improved government-to-government relationship; • Creating economic certainty for First Nations; • Promotion of aboriginal business and employment; • Support the revitalization and retention of aboriginal languages.
Leon concluded by saying, “I’m asking the First Nation leadership of B.C. for the opportunity to use my leadership experience and commitment to improving the quality of life for all our people.”