First cousin to chief says change is needed

First cousin to chief says change is needed

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Alex Louie believes he represents the change that is needed within the Osoyoos Indian Band’s stifling political structure.

The 45-year-old first cousin to Chief Clarence Louie said he gets along fine with the OIB’s top administrator, but they’ve had their share of debates.

“He’s a top notch administrator in business, but he’s not a people person . . . when it comes to taking in (different) opinions, he needs to listen.”

Alex said his cousin has enjoyed a long run in the chief’s seat, but he’s not open to change, despite the fact change is inevitable. w

Alex ran against Clarence about 10 years ago, with Ron Hall being the third challenger. But if he had known then what he knows now, he would have dropped out of the race to prevent the splitting of votes.

Alex said he never considered running again until several families approached him this year, asking for change.

“Ernest Baptiste nominated me; he said we need change. I said I would think about it. Then more families said the same thing, wanting change.”

Alex said he wants to change the OIB governing structure to a self-sustainability model based on seven essentials: water, food, clothing, shelter, power, transportation and spirituality.

“I want to bring balance in people’s lives . . . let’s create a traditional council to give power back to the people.”

Alex said he would like to see more focus on people working together to resolve the community’s problems. For example, he would like to establish a community garden to provide food to those in need (instead of relying heavily on the food bank).

Other ideas Alex has in mind include a community cooperative (credit union) and a telecommunications system.

He said if Oliver has a problem with summer transients, why not build them a proper camping facility?

“I am change,” he said.

Alex noted the biggest problem is prejudice, which has caused wars and the establishment of native reservations. “It’s divide and conquer (which leads to segregation).”

He noted if the laws don’t pertain to everyone equally, the system needs to change.

Alex attributes many of his values to his grandmother, Christine Louie, who raised him on the farm. She instilled in him that if you take care of the animals, they will take care of you. And if you don’t want to do that, then get an education.

Alex said his grandmother woke the kids up every morning at 6 am to feed the animals first. After that chore was done, the children had their breakfast.

“She left it up to us whether we wanted to go to school or not.”

At age 15 Alex started seeing the big picture and knew that being political was going to be a way of life. He originally thought of becoming a lawyer in order to help his people with native issues. But he ended up getting a diploma in hospitality and business administration.

“I persevered and got an education; I literally put myself through school.”

For the past 11 years Alex has been studying law to make himself well informed and to help others.

Election day for the OIB is February 21, and Alex is hoping that whoever votes for him is voting for change.

 

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