Written by Helena Kaufman
In a few months, James Atebe will review his mandate as Mayor of Mission, British Columbia. In the meantime The Afro News caught up with him in this quickly developing hillside town, just 70 kilometres outside Vancouver.
Atebe began life in Kisii, Kenya, in a family committed to his education and to community contribution. Armed with role models and initiative Atebe studied Geography at the University of Calgary in 1979 and began his exposure to Canadian culture. Summers were spent on an authentic Alberta cattle ranch where Atebe lived out childhood movie impressions of the cowboy life.
Work as a cartographer led to a master’s degree in city planning at the University of Washington in Seattle. Then came work as a town planner in Canmore, Alberta and the Community Futures Development Corporation in Mission, B.C..
In 1993 he moved with his wife Valerie, and his then, three children to this side of the Rockies. There began two years as economic development officer with the local Stolo Nation, a tribal council of 19 local Aboriginal bands. All along, and especially in this position, Atebe followed the family example of interest in development, land and social issues that affect people.
By 1999, Atebe ran for city council in 1999 and 2002. He was elected as Mayor in 2005.