Selina August: A voice for her people

Capilano University

Selina August began her career at Vancouver’s office of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, travelling widely to serve the needs of British Columbia’s 198 First Nations.

One day, August’s supervisor recommended she work for her own community in shíshálh (Sechelt). Only then could she find true compassion.

August moved back home. She enrolled in Sechelt Nation Language and Culture classes at Capilano University’s Sunshine Coast campus, which helped her appreciate her roots.

“I felt like I was getting my identity back,” she says. “I’ve always been proud of being shíshálh but learning where we come from and how our ancestors survived was amazing.”

August began working as the executive secretary for the Sechelt Chief and Council. She quickly learned the organizational structures, department roles, and impact of leadership decisions on the community.

“It was one of the best learning experiences because I was right in the middle of it all,” she says.

However, August didn’t have a voice at the table. She wanted to change that.

August enrolled in CapU’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, where she advanced her leadership skills and then applied her knowledge in the workplace.

“The courses played a significant role in who I am today because I use all of the tools and resources that I learned,” she says.

August soon began overseeing the Nation’s lease lands. She was elected to the Sechelt Band Housing Authority and then ran for councillor, while she was taking a course on municipal government.

“We were discussing issues like, what does a councillor do and how do they make decisions that are fair to the entire community,” she says.

On April 1, 2017, August was elected councillor, overseeing the entire Nation.

Only a few months into her role, August is already having an impact. She is dedicated to engaging her community members to ensure trust, transparency and accountability.

Her biggest highlight is representing the Sechelt Nation in the Day Scholar Class Action Suit, a case that hopes to bring justice for former day scholars of residential schools.

“Being a part of this is so rewarding because we are fighting for many nations across Canada,” August says. “Sometimes it still doesn’t register because the magnitude of it all is huge.”

Read more about Selina here.