The Fraser Canyon’s newest trustee is now, officially, part of the school board.
Cathy Speth took her oath of office at Tuesday night’s Fraser-Cascade school board meeting. Speth had won a recent by-election following the death of long-standing trustee Tom Hendrickson with around a third of the votes.
Speth is the first First Nations trustee the district has ever had, and said she hopes her presence on the board will inspire others in the community.
“I think our First Nation community is quite thrilled to have someone on this board to represent them,” Speth said. “This is the first step for us, and I’m hoping this will encourage more First Nations to step in and participate.”
In her speech to the board, Speth noted that she is stepping into the role long held by Hendrickson, and that she will “continue to pursue the goals he made — and make some goals of my own to assist in the improvement of our education system.”
“I hope that I can prove to you all that I can be the best representative for our small communities,” she said.
She added that she hoped it would be a smooth transition for herself and the board, and said she had already asked some board members to be her mentors in the coming months. Trustee Ron Johnstone has already been behind her, having helped convince her to run during the election this July.
“You’re new to the board, but you’re certainly not new to the school district, and certainly not new to your communities” Johnstone said. “I think it’s wonderful that we now have a local First Nations representative on our board.”
Other trustees agreed, saying it that having an Indigenous board member was “long overdue.”
The trustees also took a moment to acknowledge the other six candidates that ran in the election, particularly Sequel Adamson, who had the second-highest number of votes.
“We’re not going to be here forever, and I really see her as one of the hopefully heir-apparents,” trustee John Koopman said about Adamson. “I can see her hopefully here in time.
“And there were others as well,” he added, noting that Holly Traas spoke from the heart, and had a good understanding of Boston Bar Elementary. “It was nice to see that many people come out, and this was one of Tom’s dreams.”
Hendrickson had won his school board spot by acclimation for years before his passing this April; the July by-election was the first time the Fraser Canyon seat had seen a race of that size in decades.
“I’m pretty sure the late Tom Hendrickson would be very, very, very proud of what just took place,” Johnstone said.
Speth spoke warmly about her fellow candidates, saying they had good conversations together, despite their different views on what should happen at the board level.
“It’s a small community, we all know each other,” she said. “We all had good answers, and different.”