A former Lower Kootenay Band Chief and community leader passed away last week.

Wayne Louie suffered a heart attack at the age of  63.

He served as Chief Councilor in the 90’s, and more recently became known in the Canadian legal community through the Louie vs Louie case.

Rob Louie Junior was his former spokesperson and received the sad news on Friday.

“I received the phone call from my dad (Robert Louie Sr.) last Friday morning. Dad didn’t say hi. He was laughing hysterically, or so I thought until I heard the RCMP officer on the phone with me. Then I braced for impact and all I heard was ‘Wayne Louie’ and ‘Dead’ and my mind wouldn’t interpret what was just said. But moments later I completely broke down. I’ll never forget that day.”

Rob Louie says Wayne loved the outdoors and elk hunting for the last 45 years. (image courtesy of Rob Louie ,Jr)

 

Wayne was also a hunter and trapper, spending his final days working as a labourer at the Site C Dam near Fort Saint John.

“I thought that I would be writing his media releases for years to come as he advanced his community reform agenda for the Lower Kootenay Band,” Rob Louie expressed his final media release as spokesperson for Wayne Louie, who ran for Lower Kootenay Band Council in 2108.” Preparing his farewell media release engendered a wide range of emotions. It took me one day to write two pages. That’s how much I struggled with preparing his last media release.”

A public Celebration of Life will be held at the Lower Kootenay Band Gymnasium this Friday at Noon. His body will be cremated with his ashes spread by members of his family.

Rob Louie’s media release is in full below.

 

 

 

 

Lower Kootenay Band

Creston, BC

February 3, 2019

WAYNE LOUIE’S LAST MEDIA RELEASE

The Lower Kootenay Band mourns the loss of respected leader and community advocate, Wayne Louie. Wayne passed away suddenly at age 59 while working at the Site C Dam in the Fort St. John area.

Wayne grew up on the Creston flats in a small log cabin with his 7 siblings. In the summer months, as a child, he would help his grandmother pick strawberries in the Wynndel area. He fished, hunted and trapped from the time he could walk right up to his passing to the other world.

Wayne was also an athlete. He belonged to Creston Boxing Club in the 1960’s under the tutelage of the late, great Creston boxing coach Mike Moore. Wayne also played hockey, basketball and baseball. He helped form the Creston Slow-Pitch league in the early 1980’s. In the 1980s, he took his Lower Kootenay Band baseball team to tournaments in BC, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

After acquiring practical work experience in his younger days, Wayne was employed at the Lower Kootenay Band office in the early 1980s as an economic development officer. Over the years, he gained the respect of the Band and became Chief in the early 1990s.

After he finished as Chief, Wayne moved on to look to his next task. He noticed a great need to revive and retain the Lower Kootenay Band’s culture. So, he asked his mother Isabel Louie to teach him how to make the traditional birch bark canoe. It was here that he found his calling as a traditionalist. He assembled his traditional regalia so that he could dance at pow-wows. Wayne not only revived the art of birch bark canoe-making, but he also re-learned how to make a tuli-teepee, a traditional fish weir, and a sweat lodge while also culling an elk, deer and moose every Fall. He would always share the meat with Band members and family.

He loved all eight of his children. Wayne helped his children to the best of his ability. He was a family man of the community, too. Many youths at the Lower Kootenay Band looked up to him. He always made time for his family. He also had numerous friends from Creston, the Ktunaxa Nation, and all over BC and the US.

The name Wayne Louie also became known in the Canadian legal community. In 2015, he helped give legal definition to the fiduciary relationship that exists between a band member and a band council in Canada. It was at that time he became a champion of Indigenous community reform. His community values helped him lead the Louie v. Louie court case – a landmark court case that restored the balance of power between his people and his elected officials. The rest is history.

As politics goes, while some may disagree with Wayne’s approach to resolving an issue, or unsure why he chose a particular course of action, you always knew what side he was on. The Lower Kootenay Band will never have another Wayne Louie with his kind of knowledge, special skills and celebrity-like status. But, he did leave his people his lasting legacy and something to remember.

Sincerely,

Rob Louie, Dipl.P.S.M., B.A., LL.B.

Wayne Louie’s former spokesperson

(L) Robert Louie, Sr. (c) Rob Louie, Jr and (R) Wayne Louie the day of the Louie v. Louie court case. (image courtesy of Rob Louie, Jr)