2022 Municipal Election

Curious about what candidates think about the name change? Us too.
We surveyed candidates to hear their positions. View their responses below.

Hear Candidate Voices

We sent all mayoral and council candidates in the City of Pxwell River

a survey to gather information and help inform voters in the upcoming municipal election.

Each candidate was asked the same four questions regarding the name change

& reconciliation in qathet:

  1. There has been a lot of recent discussion about reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians.
    What does reconciliation mean to you?

  2.  If elected, what would you do to improve the relationship between the City and the Tla’amin Nation?

  3. Do you support the request to the City by the Tla’amin Nation to change the name of Powell River? Why or why not?

  4. What do you believe are the most important issues faced by both the residents of the City and citizens of the Tla’amin Nation, and how would you work with the Tla’amin Nation to address these issues?

The following is what we received from candidates running for city council.
We received responses from 12 of 18 candidates, representing a response rate of 67%.
Responses have undergone formatting changes to ensure consistent presentation but are otherwise unedited.
In cases where the candidates did not respond to the four questions in sequence, we likewise did not edit their responses.

Maggie Hathaway 
Mayoral Candidate

1. Reconciliation means making the effort to repair relationships that are broken. 2. Tla'Amin and the City have the Community Accord and the Protocol Agreement to help move reconciliation forward. We meet regularly at our C3 meetings to discuss areas of common concern. This would continue. We have agreed to collaborate on land use planning, economic diversification, protecting culture and heritage resources, etc. The current council recently approached the Provincial Government to provide funding for staff dedicated to these matters. 3. I sat on the Joint Working Group and support the recommendations that came from that group. 4. Economic development is a big issue for us all. We need to re industrialize the Mill site, perhaps in partnership with Tla'Amin Nation.

CaroleAnn Leishman
Mayoral Candidate

1. Reconciliation means hearing the truth, listening, learning, being open to having hard conversations while maintaining utmost respect, being willing to make mistakes in order to grow, prioritizing relationships with Indigenous peoples and finding ways to work together outside of the constructs of colonialist frameworks. Finding ways to acknowledge past harms done and move forward in a good way. 2. First, I would meet with Tla’amin Nation Executive Council to find out how we can best work together. I would begin initiating the 11 recommendations from the Joint Working Group for the name change. I would consider forming working groups or committees jointly with Tla’amin Nation members to work on any types of collaboration that is needed and/or desired. Open lines of communication between our governments. Respectful and meaningful engagement on any topics of concern. Prioritize relationship building by establishing a DRIPAA Task Force. 3. Yes, I do. I think the request for a name change from an outdated colonialist name that is harmful to Indigenous Peoples is the only right thing to do. It is an incredible opportunity for our community to re-brand itself while respecting the request from the Nation. How can a local government receive a request like this for the reasons that have been presented and not act on it? The timing is good with the mill closure as we move away from being a one industry mill town into a new modern age and consider all the possibilities going forward. It might take some time for us to find our new name to match our unique and special identity, but it is inevitable. If not now, it will happen eventually, and I want to be a part of this incredible shift and unlimited opportunities. I would like to start the search for our name as soon as possible so people can consider what a new name might look like and consider the opportunities that await us if we are brave and bold with this initiative. 4. We all live within this insulated community together on these shores and what helps one community, helps another. The same goes for when one community is hurting, the rest feel pain too. All of us have suffered in different ways from the frightening, unrelenting changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing ripple effects of that will continue to follow us for some time. This dynamic has amplified how we all react to issues and concerns and has made us intolerable of one another and has created division within our communities. We all have to take a breath, unclench our fists, slow down a bit and start listening to one another with no judgement, no angst, no animosity towards one another. Just caring, kindness and a true curiosity about what would happen if we suspended our deep seated beliefs for a few moments and allowed ourselves to imagine the possibilities of just letting go and giving in to another way of thinking and being. We can go further together, and I think this is true for every specific issue we all face today: climate change, the name change, the mill closure, lack of attainable housing, health authority mandates, concerns over property tax increases, property crime, harm reduction, fear of the unknown, fear of change. Open, honest, respectful communication, a willingness to have hard conversations, being able to agree to disagree sometimes and to lean into discomfort while leaving our egos at the door alongside our shoes as we share a meal and some stories with our neighbours would be a great start. That is how you move through adversity and embrace change as an opportunity. That is how you build community.

Ron Woznow 
Mayoral Candidate

1. It means an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to work together to mitigate harm that has been done in the past to facilitate building a better future. 2. As Mayor I would make it a priority to work with the Tla'amin Nation to identify and implement social and economic programs to create opportunities for our generation and future generations. Bonds are strengthened when working on mutual goals. 3. To date the City has implemented a name change process that has caused much division in our communities. I would restart the process so that the request by the Tla’amin Nation can be dealt with respectfully. 4. The residents of the City face significant higher taxes and fewer good paying employment opportunities. Citizens of the Tla’amin Nation who work in the City will be impacted if this is not addressed. I would make it a City priority to work with the Tla’amin Nation to attract real businesses and to support our existing businesses so that they can grow. I do not own any businesses or developable land so I would not be in any conflict and would take a lead role in attracting successful businesses to our region.

Earl Almeida 
City Council Candidate

1. To me reconciliation, in general, means an understanding from both sides of where the other party is coming from and moving forward in peace together. I believe a lot of education is needed for most Canadians to truly understand what the Indigenous people have endured. 2. Being new to the city and even newer to the political scene in town, I don’t know much about how the relationship between the City and the Tla’amin Nation has been up until now. But I think that’s a blessing as well as I don’t come to the table with any past knowledge or biased history. I enter this campaign with open eyes and ears and I want to work with all residents, of the city, region and Tla’amin Nation to strengthen our community. 3. Being a newer resident of Powell River, I’m not emotionally connected to the name as others who might have grown up here. But I grew up in Toronto and watched the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays and if there was a call to change the name of Toronto for the right reasons, it would feel different but not something I would oppose. My parents were born in India at a time when it was still a British colony. They were born in Bombay which has now been changed back to its original Mumbai along with several other Indian cities that received a name change. So I have a little experience with dealing with the name change of a place I'm comfortable with. I do feel it’s important to have local residents involved with the process to make sure all are heard but I’m not opposed to a change. 4. As I mentioned before, I don’t know enough about the working relationships between the City and the Tla’amin Nation right now to properly answer this question but in the end, we are all humans living here on the same land now. I believe in respecting everyone’s beliefs and even if my beliefs don’t agree with someone else’s, that doesn’t mean we can't have a great working relationship for the benefit of our community. It's about seeking to understand each other before being understood ourselves.

George Doubt
City Council Candidate

I will continue to support education and discussion on the possible name change for the City leading, to a public opinion pole to measure public support as required by the Provincial Government.

Cindy Elliott  
City Council Candidate

1. Reconciliation between Canada, the Provinces and indigenous people means correcting the historical record to ensure the harmful actions toward indigenous people and the multi-generational impacts are known and understood by all Canadians as part of our collective history. The education should include information about what remains today as part of our current system that continues to cause harm and changing it to form a better future for all of us. It is a responsibility of each Canadian to get informed about information that has been missing from our historical record. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada made 94 calls to action that outline ways we can and should proceed. I am in favour of supporting reconciliation. 2. The City of Powell River has signed a Community Accord with the Tla'Amin Nation that commits us to work together on issues of mutual interest. This is a unique and wonderful agreement that can support relationship building for now and the future. I would like to see some policy development with full public involvement that provides more clarity for everyone about how the Community Accord is implemented. I would advocate with the Provincial and Federal Governments for funding to support this process and particularly support for education and awareness. 3. I absolutely support the Tla'Amin Nation in coming forward and telling us how the City of Powell River can improve relationships with their community including letting us know when we are harming them. I think more information sharing and discussions will help us as a community to build consensus as we move forward into the Future. Specifically I would like to work with the City of Powell River people to explore ideas for what new name people might all love. The people who live here are beautiful people with large hearts and I have faith that we will land in a good place with a name that we can all love, be proud of and is acceptable to our friends and neighbors the Tla'Amin Nation. 4. The issues that are most important are numerous and it depends on whether you are speaking of what is most urgent, or catastrophic. Climate Change is huge and the City, the RD and the Nation are all interested in participating in Climate Mitigation and Adaptation actions that lower our carbon emissions. I increasing our region's capacity and coordination for emergency response and preparedness is critical for everyone's safety. I would like to see better communication on that front. Social issues of poverty, housing, and health care all require attention and working together will allow us to pool resources and create better more effective solutions. Regional Economic Diversification that promotes sustainable good paying jobs for everyone. It would be good to have a Standing Committee focused on this that was inclusive of all local governments. Community building that is inclusive of Tla'Amin culture, history and language is beneficial for supporting our regional uniqueness and our economy. Generally it is important that we support one another and communicate regularly in a supportive and mutually beneficial way.

Bronwyn Gisborne
City Council Candidate

1. It is a process of healing, for all of us. It is the sharing of truths and experiences. It is a willingness to go into a conversation where we might get uncomfortable but we are going to learn about ourselves. 2. The name is a symptom of a greater problems. Reform is needed to reflect a changing relationship so that the name change question can bring us all together. 3. I am in the support of the request but not in support of the process the city has undertook. Rather than turning the request into a ‘yes or no’ style question, I believe that the conversation that needs to be had is around how this request came before council and how open are the channels for communication between the city and Tla'amin. There is an opportunity now, with that request, to bring ourselves into a position where the relationship can be improved. The result of a name change should be a reflection of that improved relationship. 4. The structure of government within our greater region and how it prevents balanced and open conversation from taking place.

Glen Holstine
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Luke Holuboch
City Council Candidate

1. The recognition of the horrors the Roman Catholic Church did to the children of the First Nations People. To acknowledge the disastrous effects the first settlers had on the indigenous population taking over thiers lands, bringing disease, alcohol abuse and religious oppression. Taking into account the greed and self-righteous attitude of the elite English, French, Spanish, Portugues, Dutch, German and Italian governments who encouraged the heavy trade between them and the First Nations, creating a relationship of trust only to claim the land as Terra nullius (nobody's land) With the ideology that the Indigenous peoples were just savages and needed to conform to become loyal servants of the Crown. 2. As a person just coming into the political world, I would start by having conversations, learning about the future desires and plans of the Nation, what they hope to see for their people going forward. Where that future connects and overlaps with the people of Powell River. 3. After reading the first report by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1872 and 1873, written by Powell, I have the undeniable perspective that he really cared and appreciated the First Nations People at the time of writing this report. In context, as an elected official of the Monarchy of the Kingdom, in the 1800's, before electricity, when people still used the bush as a toilet, when the people of Europe who have been warring and taking from each other for over 3000 years, when traveling by sailing ship for months was normal, Powell was a supporter of the First Nations, that's why he got the job as the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the first place, because he could see the First Nation People were getting pushed out, abused, their land was not allocated to them yet, he was acting as the voice of the First Nations to the government. A government who just wanted the First Nations people to assimilate and become good British Citizens and forget their heritage and culture. There are many instances in his report where he is pleading for help from the government to aid the First Nations People. To get the land formally written up, to provide medical facilities inside the reserves, stopping the sale of alcohol to the First Nations, because of the horrors the Whiskey caused the people, the shame afterward the people felt when they came too, the troubles the alcohol caused for everyone. To shame him for the horrors of the Residential School System, is to forget that it was the Catholic Church who was directly involved in educational facilities everywhere from the beginning up till the 1990's. The times were very different then. Religion was used as a weapon against the people, forcing them into becoming "civilized". Powell was a surgeon, a leader in the Masonic Order, a Politician and a father, not a Catholic Priest. If anything, I would want to keep the name Powell River to remind people on the Coast that there was someone who actually cared enough to try to help, when everyone else turned their backs on the First Nation People. 4. The most important issues are where this town is heading. Without a major industry, the foundations of why this town was built are crumbling. And the clean up of the Mill site is a very expensive endeavor. The Tla'amin Nation wishes to purchase this land and what's on it. Taking on this project is a very large concern by all the people of the coast. With subsidies and help from the Provincial and Federal Government, I can see the opportunities would be attractive. But to what end? To bring in a large corporation to create another large factory or chemical facility, to be run by this foriegn company? To hire local Tla'amin people only? What happens when that facility runs its course and closes? Who will help clean that up then? Do we want another big factory or chemical plant here on the coast? In our town? Polluting our waterways, the air we breath, using up our resources? Geez, it sounds like a white capitalist way of thinking, not a people who demand respect for their Traditional Lands. Have the times changed for respect of spirit and nature. Have we all become so short sighted and forgetful.

Jason Hygaard
City Council Candidate

My name is Jason Hygaard, I am Métis. My great-grandfather attended Indian residential school. I was born in Winnipeg and raised in and around the Red River Métis homeland. I’ve always been a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation. Being Métis and of mixed heritage, not always visibly indigenous, I have an interesting perspective hearing many opinions about issues, disparaging remarks from persons not aware of my indigeneity. I am a veteran. I have been deployed to Bosnia three times on peacekeeping duties. I have experienced the extreme division of ethnic violence. I’m currently a Director on the board of the qathet Powell River Métis Society and have been for 5 years. During my time on the board, I have been a vocal advocate for the removal the name “Powell” from our society name. Upon moving to this City in 2015 I discovered the history of Israel Powell and was shocked to find the lack of awareness in our community and especially in our Métis society. I identified and raised the issue long before the city name was an upfront concern. After 3 years of frustration our society is taking the steps to change our name. Because of the pandemic and the legal requirements to meet and vote, the change has been delayed. We plan on moving on this issue at our next Métis gathering in October. To me, reconciliation is about working to achieve mutual respect between Indigenous people and other Canadians. It is about outreach and education initiatives to enlighten people about the truths of history, the inheritance of this shameful past and the present situation it has caused. We must acknowledge and learn from the past, move beyond negatives in the present and work towards healing for the future. It is a hard, emotional task and will continue to be difficult going forward. With time it will get better if all of us who want true understanding and peace continue to work together. I hope someday we can be at a place where anger and division fade and we can heal together. We have all been affected by these historical deceptions and educated falsely. Indigenous or decendents of European colonialism both inherited a debt and we must work in our communities to ensure that debt is corrected and not continue on to the future generations. Elected or not, I will continue to support, work and pursue the removal of the name “Powell” as requested by Tla’amin Nation. I am ready for the opportunity to contribute to a solution however I can be of assistance and leadership. I will strive for peace.

Trina Isakson
City Council Candidate

1. Reconciliation is an ongoing process, largely the responsibility of non-Indigenous people, to find ways to be good relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Depending on where people are in their reconciliation journey, this might mean doing some private learning about Canada’s history of colonization, increasing intake of Indigenous media (news, podcasts, books), going to events that bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together, or talking about Indigenous rights issues among friends and with people in positions of power. For a government like the City of Powell River it involves open and ongoing communication. 2. I support the continued use of the Community Accord and Protocol Agreements to guide Council’s work. I support the 11 recommendations of the Possible Name Change Joint Working Group, including embedding reconciliation in the City’s next strategic plan. I support Tla’amin Nation’s interest in being part of the purchase of the former mill site, as I trust local ownership to care about jobs and the environment. In general I would continue the open communication that the City and the Nation have, and broaden that communication to include public updates, so that City residents have a better understanding of the importance and impact of good relations between neighbours. 3. I support the request. I learned a lot during my work on public engagement earlier this year, and I feel like it is a humble request and aligns with my values of compassion and justice. I also know that people are tied strongly to place and identity, and I’d like to work with Tla’amin Nation and city residents to explore possible names to reduce some of the fear and uncertainty, and increase feelings of connection and shared values. 4. Of the issues that City Council could have the greatest impact on, I feel like affordable and accessible housing, transit, environment, creating opportunities that allow our youth to stay here, and respectful relations are important to all. Housing developments that the City gets involved with (e.g. through a Municipal Housing Authority) should be designed with a diversity of people in mind, including Indigenous city residents, people with different abilities, a variety of family types and sizes, ages, pets, etc. I understand the City has advocated for expanding public transit generally, and I support increased service north of town, especially to avoid the Cranberry milk run and missing service to Klahanie. Tla’amin Nation would know best what would best serve its citizens and we can advocate together for enhanced services. The clean up of tiskwat village site/ the former mill site is of great interest to us both, and depending on how Paper Excellence leaves the property, I would want the City to work with the Nation to access government grants to support us in the clean up and restoration of the area. Retaining our youth is vital to the future of both our communities, and I would work with Tla’amin on initiatives to support youth to see their futures here, including those related to mental health and inclusion, housing, education, and a path to well-paid meaningful work. I think in many of these areas the Nation is further ahead than the city, so we could learn about your experience in implementing the new buildings/services, how they are being used, and what gaps remain.

Cathy Korolek
City Council Candidate

1. Making one view or opinion compatible with another. I listened to an Elder from Cranbrook giving a presentation during a conference last spring. One thing she said has stayed with me ' Before reconciliation must come truth'. 2. Improving relations between the City and Tla'amin Nation is likely an ongoing conversation. With respect on all sides when talking. Learning the expectations of each and how to accomplish goals. 3. Name change is a major discussion with all concerned. There is a process to follow. Decisions should not be rushed as there are many with opinions and suggestions. It should go to public discussions, listening to all. It is not a decision that can be made easily. In saying this, open and frequent dialogue should be encouraged. 4. Important issues developing a strong working relationship with possible collaboration on projects. Again I can't emphasize enough open and regular conversations. Important to be respectful to all concerned. I spent many years in Fort St James with 6 Bands Developing friendships and working relationships. I had a great deal of respect for the elders and their strengths.

Eli Leyland
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Robin Murray
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Jim Palm 
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Todd Phillips 
City Council Candidate

1. The most important part is to eliminate the outright racism that is still active in today’s society. With systemic racism it has been driven in our brains by years of repeated untruths. Reconciliation involves education and the disclosure of the true facts. No matter what your skin colour or culture we are all people. Reconciliation also means compensation for past decisions made by previous governments. Hopefully in Tla’amins case this was dealt with in their treaty. Reconciliation also needs to address the past wrongs and coming to compromises to correct them if possible. 2. The intergovernmental discussions between the city, regional district and Tla’amin must continue. A lot of the issues: jobs, housing affordability, revenue, environment and crime will be common problems. Working together and comparing ideas may work for better results. We need to talk about the joint successes not just the more difficult struggles. 3. I support Tla’amins right to make this request and have the conservation. I also understand why Tla’amin is making the request. As of this time I do not have enough information on the final details to know my final opinion. This is the difficult part of reconciliation when we need to compromise on something to right a past wrong. This decision will take time. If we make a change we had better get it right so we do not have to go through this emotional debate again 4. The biggest issue common to both communities is the mill site. Who it gets sold to, the jobs it creates, the environmental cleanup, and the long term vision are important to both. It will be vital that both governments stay in contact to ensure the outcome is good for everybody in the region.

Michelle Riddle 
City Council Candidate

1. Reconciliation is an extensive process that requires both the capacity to think about relationships between all parties in a new way and to perform daily actions that spring from humility and cultural respect. It is a process of recognizing all harms and the act of creating justice for future interactional balance between Indigenous persons and settlers. 2. It is essential for the City to engage with the people of the Tla'amin Nation who can champion traditional practices and move forward in search of knowledge, truth and just ways of being in this world. Communication and consultation with the Tla'amin Nation is key. 3. I do support the request to the City to change the name of Powell River because we need to take a collaborative stance within this precious region. This option needs to be presented to all citizens of this community to allow the voices of the people to be heard. A name can tell a story. It is important that the name of this city reflects the character and story of all who steward this land. 4. The most important issues faced by all who inhabit this region include: a) a paradigm shift that ensures all residents have full and equitable access to fresh air, clean water, whole food, secure shelter, and interdependent human connections b) the creation of sovereign plans that empower sustainable local resource development to support the vitality of this region To address these issues, the city would need to work with the Tla'amin Nation to inventory specific needs (numbers of shelters required, population to feed, priority capital projects like sewer system maintenance, etc.) and resources (including traditional and modern practices along with land and water based natural and human-made assets). This inventory would form the foundation of a collaborative long-term plan that would benefit all.

Rob Southcott  
City Council Candidate

1. Healing; Needing introspection, working with what emerges, personally and in community. Working together for a viable future for us all. Details? Many. Let’s talk. 2. Communicate, work together, bring us together – from both sides. We have a long history of good relations to build on, and an uncertain future in our larger world in common – we need to work together for the best for both our communities. 3. It was an inevitable question. So, I support discovering what it means to us in the non-indigenous community, and I seek to work with any open heart in this regard. Its implications are deep and will take time to understand. I believe we all want to live in peace together, reconciled. 4. Economic – transition from the paper mill economy – support partnerships. Working together – vs divisiveness of many issues currently – see previous answers. Sustainability, and climate change threats – food, housing, services we all use – work together for reasonable and functional agreements for all of this. Community safety & mental health – promote housing, and other solutions together. Much going on already. Much more needed.

Evan Stocker  
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Roger Whittaker  
City Council Candidate

Did not respond to survey questions.

Jen Zacher  
City Council Candidate

1. Reconciliation means recognizing the harm that was and is done to Indigenous peoples, stopping the harm and making amends for it. The harm done is atrocious: Removing Indigenous peoples from their land and putting them on reserves, limiting their access to natural resources, implementing laws to prevent them from practicing their cultures, voting and organizing against government actions, removing Indigenous children from their homes to be educated in institutions and in another language, and the resulting individual, intergenerational, and cultural trauma of these actions. Recognizing this harm means talking about it publicly, in classrooms and in conversations with friends and neighbours. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action provide a reconciliation framework. A few examples of reconciling through government-to-government relationships in BC are improving consultation practices for natural resource developments, signing resource revenue sharing and resource co-management agreements, and negotiating and implementing modern-day treaties. These processes are imperfect and have evolved significantly over the past 20 years, particularly in response to new case law, yet they are improvements and acts of reconciliation. The potential name change Joint Working Group and its work is an example of reconciliation in action. As individuals, we can be curious, seek out and share learning, listen, speak up when friends and neighbours share misinformation, attend community events, and vote for people and policies that contribute to reconciliation. 2. My understanding is the City and Tla’amin Nation have a strong relationship. I will continue to foster that relationship by committing to implement the Community Accord, seek common interests through open and regular communication, and respectfully collaborate as partners to find mutually agreeable opportunities and solutions. I will support implementing the Joint Working Group’s 11 recommendations. I particularly appreciate #6 and #7, to establish a Reconciliation Committee (including the regional district) and to establish city staff position(s) to work on reconciliation. We’re all here to stay, and a strong relationship benefits everyone. 3. Tla’amin Nation’s request is a request for reconciliation in that it asks the City to recognize, stop and make amends for the harm done and represented by the name “Powell”. Debating Israel Powell’s character is the opposite of reconciliation because it focuses on Powell as an individual and does not recognize the harm the name represents – injustices done by government. It misses the point. A name tells a story. Let’s start talking about names that make all of our community members feel respected and reflect our character and values today. The mill is closing, which presents an opportunity to start a fresh chapter and consider a new name that we can all be proud to say. 4. Housing and affordability are top of mind as the most important issues we face. When I think of affordability, I think of the need to diversify our economy for a healthy tax base. I see opportunities to partner with Tla’amin for economic development, such as through the potential mill site sale and creating infrastructure service agreements for their treaty land. Coordinating efforts and resources among Tla’amin, the regional district and city makes sense and will benefit all of us on this and other important issues, including emergency response. Seizing opportunities to implement the Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action is also a priority. Call to action #17 is related to enabling residential school survivors to reclaim their names changed by the residential school system. I am passionate about the BC Sans open source font created to support this effort. It includes all of the characters of all BC Indigenous languages. (It’s also accessible for those with visual impairments.) Adopting it means people could use their given names in their own language when interacting with government. I will explore adopting it for the city.