Mayor John Helin

Mayor John Helin

Q&A with Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin

Helin spoke about topics in his community ahead of the village’s upcoming election

Ahead of the election in Lax Kw’alaams on Nov. 19, The Northern View talked to Mayor John Helin regarding his first term in office, and what he would work on going forward if re-elected.

Re: A new ferry

Helin: What I’m doing right now is meeting with the provincial government. We’ve got one of the oldest ferries in the fleet, so we’re looking to replace it. I have a commitment from them to replace that ferry with a new one. It’s going to probably take three years to replace it. This old one will probably have to be re-fit one more time. And the new one should be ready by then.

Re: Housing in Lax Kw’alaams and Prince Rupert

Helin: We’ve got 42 new units in the village. We’re working on 60 units in PR that should be finished by the end of the year. All the money to do that work is already in place. We’ve got more than 1,000 members that live in Prince Rupert. So anything that we can do with affordable homes we love to do. We’ve got the land identified now, and we’re working closely with the city to ensure that we have them built.

Left to right: Mayor John Helin of Lax Kw’alaams, Mayor Lee Brain and Chief Harold Leighton of Metlakatla, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and Prince Rupert in September. (City of Prince Rupert photo)

Re: Water supply line replacement upgrade & wastewater treatment plant

Helin: They’re all old infrastructure pieces. We’ve had assessments done and we’re replacing the fresh water supply to the village, the pipes that have to be change. That’s key for not just fresh water, but for fighting fires and any other emergency that might come up. And then dealing with the waste water, we’ve got a commitment from Indigenous Services Canada to deal with that.

Re: New emergency services building

Helin: That will offer an ambulance. It’s a home for the first responders in the community, we have a volunteer fire department. We also have a new fire truck, two new buses for members in the village and a new one for the school.

Re: Business issues

Helin: We set up businesses in Prince Rupert where we train a lot of our members. Getting them into good jobs has helped a lot. All the different partnerships that we’ve developed over a period of time have been key. We bought the Amonte building on Third Avenue West that we’re renovating right now, and that’s going to be a retail space along with a training centre. The fish plant brings a million dollars or more a year in wages to our members, who all live in the community. We have up to 80-100 employees. It’s been in operation for years, and never made much money, but it was always a big employer. But right now it’s making a bit of money, and we’re not going backwards. One of the biggest things that we’ve done is the paving of the roads from Tuck Inlet where the ferry lands to the village. We’ve finished paving all the roads in the community, which was millions of dollars.

Lax Kw’alaams Band Mayor John Helin spoke to the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans on April 9 in Ottawa. (Government of Canada photo)

Re: Arts & Culture

Helin: We raised a pole in the school in the village. It was the first time a pole has been raised in decades there. We also started an initiative to have some of our art and history and culture displayed at the airport in PR.

And why was this important?

Helin: It’s our history. People have to understand whose traditional territory they’re coming into when they get off the flight. So we’re going to have a 30 foot traditional canoe and totem pole carved by one of our members and one of Metlakatla’s members. Plus some other pieces that will eventually be displayed there. We have another pole that’s carved that’s going to stand down close to the waterfront where the cruise ships come in.

Re: Health

Helin: It’s always a work in progress. With some of the social problems we have, we should have resources and the capacity to deal with them.

Things to work on moving forward

Helin: I talk about our forestry operation that the band bought years ago, we changed management there, and that’s doing pretty well under the circumstances. Going forward, there’s always things you can improve on. I think one of the biggest things is having our own members fill positions in the community, whether it’s housing or administration or so on. Human capacity is always key.

There are a lot of challenges, but I’m honoured that they’ve given me the chance to be elected leader for four years.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena Bulkley-Valley MP Taylor Bachrach has been working across party lines to have rail safety issues addressed. An April 27, 2020 train derailment blocked five intersecting tracks on the CN rail line in Prince Rupert close to the waterfront on Bill Murray Drive. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bachrach pushes for rail safety and wants NW voices to be heard

Residents and community leaders are concerned about safety and preparedness in the NW

Over 8000 BC Hydro customers have been affected by the power outage. (BC Hydro outage map)
Power outage affects 8000 BC Hydro customers in Prince Rupert area

BC Hydro has assigned crews to restore power

Josie Pottle rocks out to placing painted rocks by more than 14 different Prince Rupert childcare organization staff and tots for rock gardens around the city to mark May as Childcare Awareness month. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Childcare month is rocking it in Prince Rupert

More than 14 local childcare organizations participated in making rock gardens

Volunteers at the AFFNO drive-in movie theatre night at the Jim Ciccone Centre on May 8, directed traffic and braved the rain before the movies started. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
It was lights, camera, action for AFFNO’s drive-in movie night

Volunteers and moviegoers watched a double feature in both official languages

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal has entered into a one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. for the majority of its production for supply to the Asian markets, Pembina announced on May 6th. (Photo: Supplied
Prince Rupert Terminal highlighted in Pembina first quarter

Pembina announced one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. to supply Asian market

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read