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Cowichan Tribes' new council to remain at 11 members

Newly elected Cowichan Tribes councillor Deborah Toporowski walks with Kerry Davis during Tribes
Newly elected Cowichan Tribes councillor Deborah Toporowski walks with Kerry Davis during Tribes' Safety Walk Saturday.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Cowichan Tribes won't head to a byelection after all to find a council replacement for newly elected Chief Chip Seymour.

"We're staying at 11 councillors," first-time councillor Garrett Elliott said of the previously planned byelection after Seymour was voted onto Tribes' 12-member council Dec. 5 — and to the chief's chair.

The chief can't hold both posts.

"We're still governed by the Indian Act, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada — under them we're not to have a byelection unless we don't reach a (voting) quorum," Elliott said.

Tribes' council must "really push to come up with a (workable) governance model," he noted.

"Cowichan Tribes needs an election code that's unique and distinct to Cowichan people, then submit it to the feds."

Like Seymour, who named communication with his people as job-one, Elliott felt the same as he took part in Saturday's Safety Walk across the reserve.

"We're elected by the people, for the people.

"There's always potential for breakdown without communication."

That's why fellow newly elected councillor, Debbie Toporowksi, wants a safe community as the first step toward helping Cowichan's Aboriginal folks face a slew of issues spanning suicide and mouldy housing, to unemployment.

"One person can't fix an issue by themselves, but many hands help build a healthy community."

Tribes' 12 councillors were elected from among 62 candidates for a two-year term.

They also include Charlie Arvid Charlie, Andrew Canute, Albie Charlie, Stephanie Charlie, Cindy Daniels, Diane Daniels, Matthew Louie, Chuck Seymour, and Dora Wilson.

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