Riding the Orange Wave: Kathi Dickie

Trent Ernst, Editor


Kathi Dickie has strong connections to Tumbler Ridge.

While she’s best known for her work in and around Fort Nelson—she was the first ever female to be elected Chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation and is currently serving her fourth term as band councillor—she’s no stranger to our humble little town.

Indeed, the wife of former mayor Darwin Wren is her sister. The Wrens have moved away to help his mother with some health issues, but Dickie says the Wrens loved the town and Dickie loved coming down to visit.

Dickie has worked for over 20 years to improve life on the Fort Nelson reserve where she was born and raised. She has focused on fostering greater economic development and employment opportunities for families on the reserve.

“I think I can represent the people in this area as I care deeply about the area and I want all our citizens to have good lives, good jobs, great opportunities to achieve their full potential,” says Dickie. “I want our future generations to be able to have this as well and all the conditions required for this can be in place.”

Dickie says there are a number of similarities between Fort Nelson and Tumbler Ridge. “I was born and raised in Fort Nelson and know what it is like to live in a boom and bust economy that centres around the natural resource industry,” she says. “I know how many jobs can be created through the development of our natural resources but we need to bring stability to our economies.  Some members of my families had businesses and jobs in the natural gas industry.”

Dickie serves as Education Director of her First Nation’s Community Education Authority. Over the years she has also been a home-school coordinator and worked with Chalo, an independent school co-founded by her sister.

She is a member of the Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society, Citizens on Patrol and the Northern Rockies Senior Society’s fundraising committee. She is also involved with Minerva, a leadership development program in Fort Nelson.

Dickie has a Bachelor of Arts and teaching degree from Simon Fraser University, and holds certificates in Business Administration and Liberal Arts. She is proud to continue her family’s legacy of community service and political involvement.

“This is a huge riding!” says Dickie. “I’ve just returned from candidates forums in Valemount and McBride.  Because the riding is so huge, I’ll have to use a variety of methods for communications (phone, email, websites, mail) and regular visits to each of the communities.”

Dickie has an uphill battle ahead of her. The riding has been a conservative riding for 40 years. But, she believes the winds of change are blowing. “People only have to look around: how many people are leaving the area because they have no work?  How many businesses are closing?  The boom and bust cycle has to stop.   We need to have stability in our economy and a balanced approach to development.”

She says she is not against resource development. “The reality is that we need to develop our natural resources. There are challenges in the current methods of development. We need to find solutions to the detrimental effects that currently exist. For example, the use of millions of litres of fresh water for fracking.  Research and development can be done to find solutions to those problems and have our natural resources developed in such a way that limits the negative impacts.  The reclamation side of resource development could also be a source of stable employment.”