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Tk’emlups welcomes new band council
The new Tk’emlups Indian Band council will have just under a month to get settled before the band launches into negotiations it hopes will significantly increase the size of its land base.
At a swearing-in ceremony for the new council on Tuesday, Nov. 13, returning Chief Shane, Gottfriedson urged TIB members to attend the band’s first negotiations with the provincial and federal government on its Douglas Reserve land claim, set for Dec. 4.
In 2009, the band filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court that would see the reserve extend 12 kilometres north of the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers and 24 kilometres east.
The band argues the larger land base was granted to it in 1862 on a directive from B.C. Governor James Douglas, but was reduced a few years later without TIB approval.
Gottfriedson said the first meeting will likely focus on the process for the negotiations, rather than the specific arguments.
Gottfriedson, who was re-elected for a fourth term as chief on Nov. 10, said the Douglas Reserve claim will be the No. 1 priority for the new council.
“And, No. 2 is our day scholars class-action suit and No. 3 is reconciliation, settling and creating all these different relationships with other levels of government, whether it’s provincial, federal, other First Nations,” he said.
While TIB voters favoured the incumbent chief by a margin of more than two to one, giving him 250 votes compared to challenger Marie Baptiste’s 103, only three incumbent councillors were re-elected.
Fred Seymour, now in his fifth term as a TIB councillor, led the 16-candidate field with 229 votes.
Councillors Jeanette Jules and Rosanne Casimir are also back for second terms, picking up 181 and 170 votes, respectively.
Joining them are Colleen Mosterd-Mclean (210 votes), Richard Jules (202), Edward Jensen (195) and Katy Gottfriedson (167).
Councillors Evelyn Camille, Dolan Paul and George Casimir failed to reclaim their seats, while Coun. Connie Leonard did not seek re-election.
It’s not clear how many people voted in the election.
A spokesperson in the band’s legal department told KTW 400 people cast ballots, while an administrative spokesperson said turnout was 353.
According to the band’s legal department, 417 ballots were cast when the band last went to the polls in 2009.
Calls to the band’s returning officer Marcus Hadley for confirmation were not returned as of KTW press deadline.
Gottfriedson said the new council offers a good mix of experience and energy.
“I think our new council’s going to be closer than our own brothers and sisters and, in First Nations politics, you have to be,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”