Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell – seen with his cousin, SFN councillor Joanne Charles – says he has no political affiliation with Democracy Direct or any other White Rock organization. (File photo)

Participation in Democracy Direct meeting not ‘political’ – SFN Chief

Harley Chappell says he accepted invitation to share Semiahmoo history and culture with neighbours

Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell confirmed he will be speaking at a meeting sponsored by White Rock political group Democracy Direct later this month.

But Chappell told Peace Arch News that, in accepting the group’s invitation, he is speaking purely on behalf of SFN and not seeking to step into the middle of White Rock politics.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at Centennial Park Leisure Centre Hall at 14600 North Bluff Rd.

Democracy Direct representatives – who are critical of the current White Rock Coalition majority on council – have said that they intend to run a slate of candidates in the city’s civic election in October, but Chappell said he will not be at the meeting to support any political agenda in the city.

“There is no political affiliation (with any White Rock group),” he said. “White Rock is a separate entity and their political direction is their own.”

Rather, he said, he will be speaking to provide information from the Semiahmoo perspective on “our history, our culture and current aboriginal direction.”

He said that while he does not doubt that some at the meeting will talk about current political issues, he will address the meeting in the same way he would do – and has done – for any other White Rock group that wanted to know more about the Semiahmoo people.

“I think there is a need and a hunger, when we talk about aboriginal inclusion, to know what is our place, what is our spot in the surrounding communities,” he said.

“We’re the only ones who can share this information,” he added. “Our role as Semiahmoo is educational, letting people know who we are, not merely as a First Nation, but as stewards of the land.”

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