"This document is not the end but the beginning. It has been created to ensure that future generations do not forget the valuable contributions made for the community.
I dedicate it to the children – the leaders of tomorrow – who are seeking knowledge, understanding and awareness of the Chiefs and Councillors.
Let us not forget to give thanks to our leaders both past, present, and future.
All my relations."
St̓uxwtéwsemc: Our Chiefs and Councillors
We Remember and Acknowledge Their Contributions to St̓uxwtéws, Bonaparte First Nation.
Prepared for: June 21, 2007
National Aboriginal Day
Created by Cherlyn Billy. Updated by Kara Morgan 2019.
Special Thanks to Those Who Contributed Photographs
Information Regarding Chief and Council obtained from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, BC Regional Office
1932 to 2019: We Remember
In honour and recognition of the leadership of the Bonaparte First Nation, this information was prepared not only to show the strength of the people but also to give thanks to each of the individuals who have represented the community over the last 87 years.
Kukpi7 is what Chiefs were called in Secwepemc. The Kukpi7s role is to work for the people and ensure that the lands and resources were protected for future generations. They did not stand above the people but walked beside them. Each community member was responsible for providing leadership to the Kukpi7 and voicing their concerns and interests. A Kukpi7s strength came from the community.
The Secwepemc people had family groupings and each family had people who displayed leadership in different areas that made them respected and trusted for their ability. These were the “Good People” who sat in on decisions and brought them back to their families. Today, they are referred to as Councillors. They represent their family and make decisions on behalf of the community. These individuals are selected in the same way as Kukpi7. They are personable, have recognized skills and knowledge and are advisors on all community matters. A Kukpi7 cannot works without ensuring that the interests of the people are considered and their success is linked to the Councillors.
At a point of history, the Bonaparte First Nation selected their leaders in a traditional manner until August 6, 1952, where under Order in Council PC 3692, stated that Chief and Council were to abide by elections under s.74 of the Indian Act. While this may prove to prevent St̓uxwtésemc from continuing to practice their traditions, it is clear that the notion of family has continued and will continue to be integral for the future.
In St̓uxwtéwsemc, the roles and responsibilities of the Chiefs and Councillors have seen much change in 74 years. It has not made the positions easier, in fact, if anything, the environment has added to the work. With the establishment of the Band Office in the 1970s, the Chief and Council, rather than the Indian Agent, preside over concerns within the community and also must deal with outside Government, Agencies, and Corporations. It is not just matters within the community. Leadership is evolving daily.
The St̓uxwtéwsemc remain strong because the Bonaparte Community Members represent the people in other areas such as sports, education, rodeos, culture, traditions, and knowledge of history. The children, youth, adults and elders individual success reflects on the community both past and present. Let us continue to remember.
St̓uxwtéwsemc Representatives: Past and Present
There are 68 people who served in a capacity of leadership. They are listed below by the last name as a reminder, to not only of the families but also to preserve their names for future generations.
*Indicates that the individual is deceased
Commitment to the Community
Over the past 87 years, the St̓uxwtéwsemc has had individuals who have shown their commitment through their length of service. Their time in office adds to the continuity, memory, and provides a foundation for the Band’s success. It is not easy being a Chief or Councillor. Once a person is selected as a leader, their lives no longer belong to themselves, it belongs to the community. Their lives become tied to the people.
The immediate family, spouse, children and grandchildren deserve recognition for each year that the Chiefs and Councillors served the community. As such, this list is to also thank the families of each of these leaders for allowing them to do their job.
In no particular order, these individuals are listed, for a complete list noting both Chief and Councillors, see Appendix A: Chronology of Chief and Council Leadership-Bonaparte First Nation.
- Basil Dick served as a Chief until he died. The years he served are not noted, but the fact that he died at 102 years of age in 1936 is highlighted.
- Johnny Gaspard served as Councillor from 1932 to 1950s. No documentation prior to 1932.
- Etienne Jim served as Councillor from 1932 to 1936. No documentation prior to 1932.
- Jimmy Porter served as Councillor from 1932 to 1936. No documentation prior to 1932.
- Tony Basil, son of the former Chief, served from 1936 to 1953.
- Antoine William served as Councillor from 1940 to 1953.
- David Perry served as Councillor for 17 years until this death – from 1953 to 1970.
- Archie Antoine served as Councillor for 5 years.
- Johnny Pierro served as a Chief for 9 years, between 1955 to 1966 (taking two years in 1960-1962) and Councillor, as is noted in written documentation from 1932 to 1936 – 4 years. This amount of time could have been longer, as there is no written documentation indicating anything prior to 1936.
- Richard Billy served as Chief for 5 years and Councillor for 10 years.
- Anastasia Zabotel served as Chief for 1 term and Councillor for 5 years.
- Leroy Antoine served as Chief for 4 years and Councillor for 4 years.
- Randy Porter served as Chief for 4 years and Councillor for 10 years.
- Gerald Francis Etienne served as Chief for 4 years and Councillor for 16 years.
- Terry Morgan served as Chief for 4 years.
- Terry Porter served as Chief for 8 years.
- Mike Retasket served 8 years as Chief, 2 years as Councillor,
- William Zabotel served as Councillor for 6 years.
- Tommy Basil served as Councillor since 1977 to 2007 with one break only in 2003.
- Valerie Morgan served as Councillor for 8 years.
- Percy Gaspard served as Councillor for 4 years.
- William Keith Zabotel served as Councillor for 10 years and is starting his 11th year this year.
- Ross Billy served as Councillor for 4 years.
- Dave William served as Councillor for 10 years.
- Dean Morgan served as Councillor for 4 years.
- Matilda Morgan served as Councillor for 4