Kwantlen artist and activist Brandon Gabriel. Colleen Flanagan Black Press Media

Mediator appointed after petition calls for Kwantlen governance change

One public forum has already been held on the issue

A group of Kwantlen First Nation band members concerned about tribal governance says some steps have been taken after reaching out to the current chief and band council.

Brandon Gabriel said the current band leadership of the nation, which has its most main reserve in Fort Langley, has acknowledged receiving a recent petition about governance.

The Kwantlen First Nation is one of the largest Indigenous communities in Canada with a hereditary form of governance. Chief Marilyn Gabriel is the hereditary chief.

Earlier this spring, Brandon Gabriel and others put forward a petition calling for a new system of government. The petition didn’t call for a specific type of system, but did call for an end to hereditary rule and for the band to work together on a change in governance.

Since receiving the petition, a law firm has been appointed as a neutral mediator between the concerned Kwantlen citizens and the band council, Brandon Gabriel said.

On April 30, a public forum was held on the reserve, with the mediators and two members of the band council present. Gabriel said it was well attended.

“There’s a big spectrum of people… that are seeking change,” said Gabriel.

He noted there have been some heated moments in the last few months. The Kwantlen First Nation has just under 300 members, many of them related. Brandon Gabriel is the nephew of Chief Marilyn Gabriel.

Because of the close-knit nature of the community, they have agreed that content of that and future meetings will be kept confidential, Brandon Gabriel said.

“I feel that the process that’s taking place is necessary,” Brandon Gabriel said.

The Kwantlen band council did not respond to a request for comment.

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