Lucinda Phillips was re-elected as chief of the Lil’wat Nation on Saturday (March 9), while members of the Mount Currie band ratified new Election and Citizenship codes via referendum.
Voters also selected an experienced council — nine incumbents were re-elected to the 12-member council, while the other three individuals voted in have all served as councillors in the past.
Phillips received more than 48 per cent of the votes in Saturday’s three-person race for chief. The 285 ballots cast in her name were 54 greater than former chief Fraser Andrew, who was the first runner-up. Vaughan Gabriel earned 70 votes.
Phillips said she was both surprised and pleased to be chosen by members to lead the community for another two years.
“I thank everybody who came out and I’m looking forward to working with everybody throughout the Sea to Sky corridor … and keep some of these projects going,” said Phillips, who had a busy first two years leading the Lil’wat.
Prior to the election, Phillips said she hoped she had earned the trust of the community after being elected to her first term in an extremely close 2011 vote. She felt her re-election showed she’d had some success in that regard, given that her nearest competitor was a respected former chief.
“I still probably have a lot more work to do moving forward,” said Phillips. “It was a close race with one of my spiritual leaders who is considered to be an elder.”
Andrew, a former chief who last served in the position in 1991, said he wasn’t disappointed with the result and felt voters chose strong candidates.
“I accept the people’s choice and accept what their reasoning may have been,” said Andrew. “It’s a great chief and council.”
Gabriel was among the nine individuals re-elected to council, joined by returnees Joshua Anderson, Chris Irving, Lois Joseph, Maxine Joseph-Bruce, Dean Nelson, Nadine Pascal, Tara Smith and Rosemary Stager.
Alphonse (Eyes) Wallace, Joanne John and Felicite Nelson were the three former councillors voted back to the table on Saturday.
Dean Nelson, with 377, earned the most votes among the 31 candidates in the running for council, while Wallace garnered 368.
“I’m really grateful for the acknowledgement,” said Dean Nelson, a teacher at Xit’olacw Community School. “I try to be a good role model in the community.
“I’m happy with the results and I’m looking forward to the next term.”
Phillips said having no first-time councillors should make for a smooth transition into the next term. Though she was newly elected on Saturday, Felicite Nelson is now one of the most experienced councillors among the community’s leadership team and Phillips is pleased to have her aboard.
“Having that experience definitely will help us moving forward,” said Phillips. “I’m looking forward to working with the new ones as well has having my old council back on board.”
The new Lil’wat Election Code passed on Saturday by a count of 393 votes for, 178 against. The code establishes a two-chief system — one political, one cultural — and four-year terms for elected officials.
The Citizenship Code was passed with 75 per cent of ballots cast in favour of the amended regulations. With the new code ratified, children born to one Lil’wat parent are now immediately granted band membership, eliminating the double-parent rule that previously existed.
Though happy to see them approved, Phillips said she was disappointed the codes didn’t pass by even greater margins, as she and council worked to craft documents they felt will beneficial in the community’s future.
“That goes to show that we didn’t do well enough with our communications plan, so I’d definitely like to work on that for the (next) year,” said Phillips. “But having the Citizenship Code is obviously a huge deal — we’re going to have 50 or 60 new members that will be registered to Lil’wat now. I’m hoping we’re going to plan a celebration and welcome these new community members to Lil’wat — even though they’ve always been here.”
The Election Code will be submitted to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for approval, but will be official by the next elections in 2015.
x-Lucinda Phillips —285
Fraser Andrew — 231
Vaughan Gabriel — 70
x-Dean Mitchel Nelson — 377
x-Alphonse (Eyes) Wallace — 368
x-Tara Smith — 295
x-Felicite Nelson — 264
x-Maxine Joseph-Bruce — 262
x-Lois Joseph — 253
x-Rosemary Stager — 253
x-Joshua Ryan Anderson — 245
x-Vaughan Gabriel — 242
x-Joanne John — 236
x-Nadine Pascal — 230
x-Chris Irving — 223
Luke Johnny — 215
Martina Pierre — 213