Harley Chappell

Harley Chappell

New chief for Semiahmoo First Nation

Harley Chappell replaces Willard Cook as chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation, following a vote Dec. 22

After two decades under the same leader, the Semiahmoo First Nation has chosen a new chief.

Chilliwack resident Harley Chappell was elected to the role Dec. 22, in the band’s biennial election.

Harley ChappellHe replaces Willard Cook, who held the title since 1996, when Cook replaced longtime chief Bernard Charles. Charles, who was Grand Chief when he died in 2008, served as elected chief for 36 years.

Cook’s term ended on Dec. 27.

Joanne Charles and Roxanne Charles were re-elected as councillors.

Repeated attempts by Peace Arch News to connect with Chappell and the two councillors have been unsuccessful. However, information on Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s website confirms the trio’s positions took effect Wednesday.

Issues inherited by Chappell include the seemingly interconnected challenges of a newly tenuous relationship with the City of White Rock, and Semiahmoo’s long-contaminated water supply. The reserve has been under a permanent boil-water advisory since 2005.

Cook and Joanne Charles in September appealed to the City of Surrey for an emergency connection to Surrey’s network, following notice in August from the City of White Rock that its supply would be terminated “within… 18 months.”

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin later described the termination as a “possible outcome… if we can’t come to some sort of negotiated agreement (surrounding the provision of services).”

It remains unclear if remuneration played a role in last week’s election.

Last year, word that the SFN chief and council were together paid nearly half a million dollars in the 2013-2014 fiscal year – with $267,729 (including $420 in expenses) of that going to Cook, $200,756 to Joanne Charles ($13,618 in expenses) and $32,198 ($27,473 in expenses) to Roxanne Charles – was the subject of discontent from some members who claimed the bands’ finances had never been shared.

The salaries were defended in an August 2015 statement from chief and council that noted the majority “comes from revenue that has been generated on behalf of the nation, and negotiations on some of these agreements are ongoing.”

How public Chappell will be in his role remains to be seen. While Bernard Charles was quite visible during and after his tenure, Cook was somewhat less in the public eye. While Cook attended various public events, and weighed in on the 2009 Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye salmon numbers, Joanne Charles has been the band’s main spokesperson in recent years.

According to Chappell’s Facebook page, he graduated from Earl Marriott Secondary in 1994, is married with two sons and is currently owner/instructor of Pacific Top Team Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Chilliwack.

In 2014, Chappell was MC of an event at EMS, when two totem poles created by his cousin, SFN master carver Leonard Wells, were raised.

Last week’s election was held under the Indian Act. Any appeals would have to be filed within 45 days.

According to INAC, the band has 98 registered members as of November 2016. Of those, 51 live on the 129.1-hectare reserve itself, seven live on other reserves and 40 live off the reserve.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

An officer collects forensic evidence from a police SUV following the July 18, 2015 incident that ended in the police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey. (File photo)
UPDATE: Verdict, recommendations in coroner’s inquest into 2015 police-shooting death in South Surrey

Review of force options among recommendations out of coroner’s inquest into death of Hudson Brooks

(Photo: Now-Leader).
Surrey Schools seeking community input for 2021-22 budget

Majority of it is pre-allocated, but room to address priorities in the community

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read