Opinion

Editorial — Kwantlen people have well-respected leaders

There has been much media and public interest in salaries paid to chiefs and councillors of First Nation organizations.

In some cases, high salaries don’t seem to equate with the actual amount of work done. However, the salaries paid to Kwantlen First Nation leaders seem to be quite reasonable, based on the work they do and the responsibilities they have.

Chief Marilyn Gabriel earns $106,111. While that is close to the salary paid to Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese, it is important to remember that the Kwantlen chief also does much of the administrative work for the organization, in addition to being the single person relied on by  most members of her community. She is also deeply involved in the education of young Kwantlen members. Administrators in Langley Township and Langley City make two to three times what Gabriel does.

Councillor Tumia Knott makes even more, $118,895. However, she also serves as legal counsel and heads up the Kwantlen’s business development arm, which has had a number of successes in the past few years and is currently working on a commercial development on Kwantlen land in Maple Ridge.

Gabriel and Knott are part of a new generation of First Nations leaders who are determined to move their communities forward by honouring their past traditions,  while embracing economic development and more opportunities for their members.

The ultimate decision on whether the salaries are reasonable is made by the Kwantlen people themselves, who seem to be quite satisified with their leaders.

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