Newly-elected School District 70 trustee Connie Watts captures Saturday’s election results from a screen in the ACRD boardroom. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

After serving a single term as a trustee in School District 70, Jane Jones is passing the torch to her daughter, Connie Watts.

Both are members of the Tseshaht First Nation in the Alberni Valley, and both ran in the 2018 municipal election for seats on the school board.

Watts finished with 2,908 votes to earn a seat along with incumbents Larry Ransom, Pam Craig, John Bennie and Rosemarie Buchanan, as well as new trustees Christine Washington and Sandra Leslie (who earned the west coast seat). Jones finished with 1,930 votes.

“I feel super duper,” Jones said, smiling as she and her daughter sat in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) boardroom waiting for results from last two polling stations.

“She thinks I planned it, but really I didn’t,” she said, smiling at her daughter.

Watts laughed. “’Let’s run together,’ she said. Now that I’m in she’s like ‘now I can retire.’”

Watts said she is ready to take on this new role.

“I’m excited. I think there’s lots of change that needs to happen. I think it’s going to be a fantastic new board of trustees—good people to work with. There are things for the kids to do, things for the teachers to do and things to make better environments,” she said.

“It’s amazing. It’s exciting.”

Some of Jones’s former colleagues said they will miss her voice on the board of education.

“It’s a shame that we’re going to be losing Jane Jones, but her daughter Connie is,” said incumbent trustee Larry Ransom, who was re-elected to the board.

“We’d like to stay in touch and keep her voice alive.”

Jones was the first Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations representative on the board when she was elected in 2014.

“As a First Nations woman, I know that access and inclusion are vital for all students. All students deserve to have a safe and accepting learn environment,” Jones wrote in her 2018 election profile.

Jones had said if elected, she would “work towards better solutions around special needs and First Nations language and cultural curriculum. We need to utilize resources that are being developed in these areas and implement them, “ she added, “for example holistic approaches in learning and the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations.”

Having Watts—also Tseshaht—on the board is important, Ransom said, because it will mean a strong Indigenous voice will continue to be heard.

Maintaining a Nuu-chah-nulth voice on the board “is extremely important,” he said. “When Jane came on board she brought a voice from that community and we’ve been able to build our relationships even stronger than we already have.

“I’m looking forward to working with Connie and with her community. It’s wonderful that they are still a part of our group.”

Watts is well known both in the Alberni Valley as well as further abroad. She is an artist renowned for her public artwork, from a sculpture in front of the BC Hydro building and in downtown Parksville to a memorial piece honouring residential school survivors near the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council building, and countless paintings and other media in public and private galleries around the world.

Watts has two university degrees and some learning from the school of hard knocks: after suffering from a double skull fracture, she lost her ability to read and write, and had to re-learn things that she once took for granted.

“When I was recovering, I turn to education. I earned my second degree in Fine Arts from Emily Carr University. This journey has instilled a deep compassion and understanding for the variety of teaching methods need to reach all students,” she said.

In her election profile, she also said her culture and heritage help guide her.

“I was raised with our First Nations’ values and ways: where great love, support and help surrounded you, so you can reach your true potential,” she said.

“I will work to build respect through information and open communication. I want to ensure the voices of teachers, parents and students are heard in the development and implementation of the growing and changing curriculum.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

 

Outgoing School District 70 trustee Jane Jones congratulates Larry Ransom on being re-eleted to the board of education, Saturday night at the ACRD boardroom. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Port Alberni’s Kari Trott set to shine at Canada Winter Games

Trott is one of two Special Olympics BC figure skaters invited to the national event

BCHL: Bulldogs’ Hawthorne commits to NCAA Wildcats

20-year-old goaltender earns scholarship to play Div. 1 hockey next year

Port Alberni realtor trekking the Sahara Desert in support of ACAWS

Chris Fenton of The Fenton Team will spend five days hiking in the Sahara Desert

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Port Alberni bear spraying suspect arrested in Coombs

Nanaimo resident facing 16 criminal charges after “well coordinated” RCMP effort

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read