Christopher Derickson

Forty Under 40 Winner 2017: Partner, Alderhill Planning; councillor, Westbank First Nation Age 38

When a municipality writes a community plan, it typically looks at things like land use, transportation and sustainability.

When a First Nation develops a community plan, it’s a very different approach – one that places less emphasis on land use than on culture, language, history and social issues.

There isn’t a whole lot of expertise in that field yet, so Christopher Derickson recently partnered with two other First Nation community planners to found a new consulting firm, Alderhill Planning, which is helping other First Nations across Canada develop their own comprehensive community plans.

In addition to being a partner in Alderhill, Derickson is also a band councillor for the Westbank First Nation.

Thanks to its own planning, Westbank has experienced a reversal of the more typical trend of band members leaving the reserve for work. Band members have been returning to Westbank to take advantage of economic opportunities and new housing options.

“We have an enormous amount of economic development happening on our lands, and the opportunities for employment are there for our members,” Derickson said, adding that he is particularly proud of what he calls “one of the most progressive housing programs in Canada for First Nations.”

Born in Vancouver, Derickson spent most of his childhood in Alberta, where his father worked. When he was 11, his parents moved back to the Westbank reserve, which his father belonged to.

Derickson’s parents had always been heavily involved in community politics, a passion he has inherited from them. He earned degrees in both political science and law from the University of British Columbia and, while still in university, was hired in 2007 as Westbank’s community planning co-ordinator.

He later ran for band council in a by-election, where he won a seat and was re-elected two more times. During this time, he completed an executive MBA in Aboriginal and business leadership at Simon Fraser University.

In addition to developing Westbank’s own community plan, Derickson helped write the community planning handbook for the B.C. region for Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada.

Birthplace:

Vancouver

Where you live now:

Westbank, West Kelowna

Highest level of education:

MBA in Aboriginal and business leadership, Simon Fraser University

Currently reading:

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Currently listening to:

"Stoney," Post Malone

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up:

Police officer

Profession you would most like to try:

Full-time academic

Toughest business or professional decision:

Dropping out of a master’s program and giving up a full fellowship to run for band council

Advice you would give the younger you:

Don’t worry so much; chase your dreams

What’s left to do:

Complete my PhD.

Join us to celebrate the 2017 Forty under 40 Awards on January 23, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit http://www.biv.com/events/40under40 

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