Hemphill steps down

Port Hardy Councillor Jessie Hemphill has announced she will be stepping down in mid-September.

Port Hardy Councillor Jessie Hemphill has announced she will be regretfully stepping down in mid-September.

A byelection will be held to replace her in October.Hemphill announced the news at the regular monthly meeting of District of Port Hardy council April 26.

Hemphill was first elected in 2011, the youngest woman and first person from a local First Nation to sit at the table.In 2014, Hemphill sought re-election campaigning that she would be splitting her time between Port Hardy and Nanaimo for 2015, promising to attend most council meetings in person, or via teleconference.A promise she kept, said Mayor Hank Bood.

“She was an excellent councillor, period,” said Bood. Even though she was living in Nanaimo, “at the end of the day she was as good as any councillor I had,” he said. Hemphill will be hard to replace, because “she did a really good job.” In particular, Hemphill “drove that really necessary part of our community” which is the liaison with First Nations. “We need to do more things together (in order to be successful) and she drove that process in a very smooth way and it worked,” said Bood.

Hemphill also gave the district an influence in the outside world through her involvement with various groups such as the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, said Bood. In addition to municipal politics, Hemphill runs her own consulting business, helps First Nations communities with community planning and facilitation, and is involved in a range of other roles from sitting on the board of the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Girl’s Fund to co-founding the Young Elected Officials Network.

Hemphill grew up in Port Hardy and attended the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw School. As a teenager, her family lived on the reserve and she attended Port Hardy Secondary School. During her tenure, Hemphill has been an advocate for sustainability, green power, youth engagement, community planning, economic development and First Nations relations. In fact, Hemphill chaired the new First Nations Relations Committee which focuses on trying to do finding ways for the District to work towards reconciliation.