Trustee Cecelia Reekie has decided not to seek another term on the Langley Board of Education.
Reekie has served for the past three and one-half years. She was first elected to one of the Township seats on the board in a byelection in January, 2011, and was re-elected in the general election in November of that year.
She is the first person of Aboriginal descent to be elected to the board. She is a member of the Haisla nation from the Kitimat area.
In a letter to The Times, she explains that she has discussed the upcoming election with her family, and felt it would be too much of a time commitment to serve four more years. This fall’s election will see winning candidates serve four-year terms on local councils and boards of education for the first time.
“It is a major time commitment,” she says. “When I was first elected, I quit my full-time job to focus, listen and learn. (That commitment) takes a toll on you personally, and on your family.”
Reekie says she also struggled at times with the way that board decisions are made. Coming from an Aboriginal culture, she says “we think so much with our hearts” and it was sometimes hard to bring that approach to issues at the board table.
She is pleased that the Langley School District has paid down its accumulated deficit that ran up over several years (before she was elected), and is also pleased that the board is working towards consensus on many issues.
She also is pleased that the board is having regular liaison meetings with Langley Township and Langley City councils, as she believes it is essential to work on issues together.
She believes she has helped bring a perspective about special needs and Aboriginal students to the board table.
In her letter (see page 9), she says she has great admiration for employees of the district.
“Your work in our district is truly powerful. Through your dedication and expertise you continue to make a difference for our students every day. Thank you.”
While trustees have lost some power over the years as the province has taken more control over education decisions, Reekie says local trustees play a key role in the education system and ensure that “local voices” are heard on educational issues.
Reekie says she made her decision in May, before the teachers’ strike, and that was not a factor in her decision.
Other than her family, the first person she told about her decision was Kwantlen First Nation chief Marilyn Gabriel, for whom she has a great deal of respect.
The two of them agreed that it was time for someone else to take up her paddle.