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Indian Band swears in new council

Chief Stan Dixon of the Sechelt Indian Band is no stranger to politics.

Chief Stan Dixon of the Sechelt Indian Band is no stranger to politics.

At his swearing-in ceremony last Friday, Dixon promised to use that experience to streamline operations at the band and in the band's dealings with the other governments on the Sunshine Coast.

"Right now we have a 10 by 10 box with 85 politicians in that box scrambling around accomplishing nothing," Dixon said.

The new chief has a well-documented sense of humour, readily apparent when he shouted "April Fool" in the middle of his oath.

Friday's ceremony also saw the swearing-in of the four councillors, Garry Feschuk, Tom Paul, Keith Julius and Marita Paul-Franke. Of the four, only Paul-Franke is new to council. Julius is a past councillor, Feschuk was chief for the past 12 years, and Paul has also served as chief. The ceremony combined pageantry and informality.

The over 100 people in attendance heard from Sechelt elders and Father Tom Nicholson of the Catholic Church. Nicholson, who officiated at the marriage of Feschuk and his wife in the 70s, said it was a personal privilege to swear in the new council. Nicholson contrasted the splendour of Friday's occasion with the (at that time) imminent death of Pope John Paul II.

Gene Harry from the Squamish nation gave a traditional blessing to the new council. Several other dignitaries were in attendance to wish the new council well. Most, like Margo Elewonibi, senior negotiator, treaty and economic measures for the government of B.C., had past history with the band. Elewonibi, who was warmly welcomed by the elders at the head table, credited the new council with being an "experienced and seasoned group of people." She told the Sechelt people, "You live in my heart."

Tom Malloy brought greetings from the government of Canada. And former Gibsons councillor John McNevin, a driving force in the Dakota Ridge development, urged the council to support the initiative. John Rees, Sunshine Coast Regional District Area A director, also attended.

Chief Dixon said the band and the community are all in the same canoe, referring to a mural on the back wall of the Sechelt Indian Band hall made by his wife Lori and several volunteers. "Let's pull together," the new chief urged.

The morning's event was concluded with a performance by the Paull family singers. The group, led by Lori Dixon, performed two traditional songs.