Chief Christopher Derickson

Aboriginal community consultant and MBA Christopher Derickson is the new chief of the Westbank First Nation.

Westbank First Nation has a new chief – Christopher Derickson.

Derickson, who has been a Westbank First Nation councillor since 2012, won Thursday's election over incumbent Chief Roxanne Lindley.

The vote count was 200 for Derickson and 174 for Lindley.

A total of 377 votes were cast in the election.

Westbank First Nation has a membership of about 850.

Derickson has a law degree and an executive MBA in Aboriginal and Business Leadership from Simon Fraser University.

He's also a visiting lecturer at Simon Fraser's Beedie School of Business, on the faculty of Native Nations Institute in Arizona, chair of the Okanagan College board of governors and a partner in Alderhill Planning.

Alderhill does policy development, community planning, community engagement and strategic planning for Aboriginal bands, band staff and elected leaders.

The four councillors joining Derickson on the 2019-22 council are incumbent Fernanda Alexander; Lorrie Hogaboam, who previously served on council during the 2010-13 term; and newcomers Jordan Coble and Andrea Alexander.

Lindley served one three-year term as chief, 2016-19.

Her father, Norman, was Westbank First Nation's first chief in 1963 when it was created after a split with the Vernon-based Okanagan Indian Band.

Lindley also traces her lineage back to great-great-grandfather and hereditary Chief Swkncut.

Swkncut was the Syilx chief of the village in the Mission Creek area where the Central Okanagan's first white settler – French Oblate missionary Father Charles Pandosy – settled in 1859.

A bronze sculpture of Swkncut stands on the downtown Kelowna lakefront beside the Kelowna Visitors Centre.

Westbank First Nation is comprised of five reserves over 5,340 acres, much of it from the west end of the William R. Bennett Bridge to West Kelowna.

Busy Highway 97 runs through reserve lands and Westbank First Nation has capitalized on that with commercial development along the highway that includes the shopping centres containing Walmart, Real Canadian Superstore, Winners, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Shoppers Drug Mart, Xtreme 8 movie theatres, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank and TD Bank.

Westbank First Nation gets a lot of attention for its economic, tourism and community development efforts.

The nation has about 850 members, but 9,000, mostly Caucasian, non-members also live on reserve lands.

Back in June at a ceremony at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College raising the Syilx Okanagan Nation Alliance flag for the first time, Derickson was a guest speaker.

"This is important in the context of reconciliation," said Derickson.

"Prior to the arrival of European settlers, we lived in partnership with the land. We were pushed off that land to reservations and residential schools that tried to take the Indian out of children. We all reside on Indigenous land. We were pushed away, but we didn't go away. This flag is a symbol of recognition, that young people can practise their culture at Okanagan College."