It’s been busy time, these past 10 days, for Reginald (Reg) Mueller of Saik’uz First Nation. On Friday, Nov. 17 the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) announced his appointment as their Deputy Tribal Chief, by a unanimous vote, meaning he is effectively fulfilling the role as Tribal Chief. His former role was Vice Tribal Chief and Technical Services Director at the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.
“I am both honoured and humbled that the CSTC Chiefs would have the confidence to appoint me,” says Mueller.
“The work that Tribal Chief Terry Teegee is undertaking as the BC Regional Chief [elected Oct. 12, 2017] is important to all BC First Nations and requires his greater attention. To support Tribal Chief Teegee in his new role the CSTC Board of Directors have appointed Reg Mueller as the Deputy Tribal Chief to assist in the delivery of the services provided by the tribal council until the election for the CSTC Tribal Chief is held in July 2018,” said the press CSTC release.
Frog clan, engineer
Reg Mueller is a sitting member of the Frog Clan. Reg successfully completed Engineering Design and Drafting programs at the College of New Caledonia and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Mueller is a Design Technologist at Freflyt Industries Inc. in Vanderhoof and has a background in mechanical engineering with over 25 years of engineering and project management experience.
He has worked for Saik’uz supporting First Nations community initiatives and businesses including a logging company and a log building company. For example, Mueller was a negotiator for the first Saik’uz and L&M agreement providing economic and employment benefits to Saik’uz band members and which also helped kick-start Tin Toh Forest Products, a successful Saik’uz logging operation. Mueller also sat on the board of Dezti Wood Ltd and negotiated the outright ownership of the Dezti building and infrastructure located on Noonla Reserve beside VSWP. Reg Mueller is a member of the Highway 16 Action Plan Advisory Group.
“young” Elder, mentor
Outside of work, Mueller volunteers for a number of initiatives such as First Nations Foster Kids in Care as a “young” Elder, and has worked as a mentor to young First Nations men and women in the trades at the College of New Caledonia’s, Vanderhoof campus. Most recently he has managed the THEO (Transportation and Heavy Equipment Operating) Initiative, delivered through Prince George Aboriginal Employment and Training Association. In this role he dedicates countless hours to training motivated men and women in the Transportation and Heavy Operating Initiative, a program which strengthens collaboration between employers and First Nations peoples.
Reg Mueller has been happily married for 32 years to Priscilla, also a community builder, local organisation board member and volunteer. Priscilla works as an Aboriginal Support Worker for SD#91, Nechako Valley Secondary School and is currently serving as a Councillor for Saik’uz First Nation. Together they have three children, Cherina, Danielle, and Christopher and one three year old granddaughter, Alayna.
On Nov. 18, the very next day after his appointment as Deputy Tribal Chief, Mueller, was awarded the 2017 ASTTBC Advanced Technology Award, presented to him in Vancouver at a gala event with 400 VIP attendees from government, industry, education and business from across the country.
“This award acknowledges an ASTTBC member who has made significant advancements in technology and recognized the application of advanced technology in new uses,” says a press release from ASTTBC.
In his role as an Applied Science Technologist at Freflyt Industries Inc., Mueller helped lead the design team of Gerry Friesen, Owner of Freflyt Industries, Jim Bowman, Technical Specialist, on the new Stretched B Train 9 axle logging trailer design, the first of its type in B.C.
“This new design will, in the long term, reduce the number of logging trailers on the road, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce overall ground impact, which in turn will make our highway routes more safe to drive on,” says Mueller.
Freflyt Industries, a Vanderhoof company, completed the pilot project along with Blue Valley Enterprises, Canfor and CVSE. This pilot project ultimately resulted in the successful implementation of this configuration which is now in operation in Northern B.C. with approximately 8 units on the road, all built by Freflyt. This is the direction the industry is going to help mitigate the recent reductions in the AAC in the Prince George TSA.
“Reg’s pioneering efforts in the logging industry are an inspiration to us all who wish to incorporate positive advancements in technology into our homes and communities,” says John Leech, ASTTBC CEO.
Priorities for Reg
“My obvious priority will be to prove my ability to successfully perform the duties and responsibilities that come with this [Deputy Tribal Chief] position. It will be my main objective to prove to the Chiefs that they have made the right decision,” says Mueller.
“Personally, I would like raise awareness levels of all British Columbians regarding the paradigm shift currently taking place in relations between First Nations in B.C., the BC Government and the Government of Canada toward the principles of Reconciliation. It is incumbent on all British Columbians to look back on the history of First Nations and colonizers in our province and to educate themselves as to how we have gotten to this place of beginning the process of reconciliation between governments.”
“It is not a collaborative history and it excluded First Nations involvement in decision making regarding ownership and economic development on their own lands. Recent court rulings such as the Tsilhqot’in Land Case have confirmed Aboriginal Rights and Title ahead of Crown Title. Governments recognize this and are now, 150 years later, starting the process of working together with First Nations to reconcile the issue. True reconciliation begins with each of us, as individuals, as well as with all of us, as a collective,” says Mueller.
“The recent unveiling of the mural at the corner of Hwy 16 and Kenny Dam Road is small example of how, by working together, we accomplish great things for everyone.”