Joan Phillip, poses with her husband Stewart. She is the NDP candidate for the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Riding. (Black Press file photo)

Penticton Indian Band councillor trying for federal seat

Joan Phillip acclaimed as NDP candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Joan Phillip is looking forward to challenging MP Dan Albas for the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding.

The third term Penticton Indian Band councillor doesn’t think it’s going to be easy, though. She said she’s going to be using up a lot of shoe leather getting out there to convince people that she and the NDP are a good alternative to Albas and the Conservative party.

“Well, I think that we need someone in Ottawa that’s going to fight for people in our in the riding,” said Phillip, who was selected as the NDP candidate on May 4.

She added that Dick Cannings is doing a great job in the neighbouring, and equally large, South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.

“We really need somebody to fight for us in the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola area,” said Phillip, who first got involved in politics at age 16. “He doesn’t have the kind of political background that I have. I think we need someone that has political experience and isn’t afraid to speak out on behalf of the constituents.”

Phillip said the issues affecting people in the riding are universal.

“The problems that we’re facing today, such as global warming and the environment … is not just a First Nations problem. It’s a problem that we all face because pollution doesn’t stop at the reserve border. Nor does it stop at any kind of boundaries.

“My need to help people get proper health care and a universal pharmacare program, it touches everybody, not just Aboriginal people.”

The growing problem of homelessness is another the federal government could be doing more about, according to Phillip.

“Everybody keeps saying we need to take care of the homeless,” said Phillip. “It keeps growing year after year after year. And I think that’s a shame.”

Phillip has worked with a number of First Nations organizations, including the Vancouver Indian Centre, the native police liaison committee in Vancouver and studied Indigenous peoples resource management at the University of Saskatchewan and the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association. She has been the PIB’s lands administrator for more than two decades.

She is also a longtime supporter of the NDP.

“I’ve been a member of the NDP since about 1972, when Dave Barret was there,” said Phillip. “I ran twice for the party, once federally and once provincially.”

Phillip was born and raised in North Vancouver, her grandfather was actor and writer Chief Dan George. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. Phillip’s husband is Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and himself a political veteran.

“His job keeps him busy enough as it is so he might not be with me knocking on doors, but he’ll be with me in spirit,” she said.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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