Ey Swayel, my Xwelmexw name is Weli’leq, my given name is Derek Epp. My parents are Bruce and Sheree Epp; my Grandparents are Georgina Pall and the late Lorne Robinson; my great grandparents are the late Duncan and Dorothy Wealick. I am a proud descendant of the Wealick family and honoured to walk with the Xwelmexw name Weli’leq while serving our community. I have been fortunate enough to live on Tzeachten First Nation since I was two years old which has given me the ability to understand the importance of our land while getting the opportunity to build strong relationships within our community.
During my educational journey I was able to achieve my Diploma in Social Services while specializing in First Nations studies. I used that diploma to further my education and complete a Bachelors in Social Work. During the final year of my degree I was the only student from my cohort to pursue an overseas practicum. I decided to work at an Aboriginal Child Protection Agency in Melbourne, Australia where I was able to learn the similarities that the Sto:lo people had with the Indigenous people of Australia. After returning home I decided to use my education to serve my community by working with Xyolhemeylh (Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society).
Since I was quite young I always wrote essays for school and scholarships on how I felt the desire to serve the Tzeachten community. I felt I was bound by the policy and restrictions of Xyolhemeylh to truly make a difference in my own community and when I was asked to run in the 2017 election I was both humbled and honoured. I look forward to making our members, our ancestors and future generations proud by progressing Tzeachten through the community’s vision and ensuring to continue to build a healthy community through culture and developing social services.