It’s a case of third time’s a charm for Otis Guichon Sr., newly-elected chief of Alexis Creek First Nation.
“I ran for chief twice before and didn’t get elected, so I was surprised to get voted in this time,” Guichon, 58, told the Tribune Monday. “I’m excited. I was on council for 14 years, serving seven terms.”
While everyone is wondering what his platform is, the Chief said he is waiting to develop that with the band council, which will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24 for the first time since the election on Jan. 9.
Nicole Setah was also elected and will be joining the other members of council — Agnes Case, Rocky Guichon, Percy Guichon and Maryanne Boyd — on council for one more year of a two-year term.
“We have two-year terms on our council as we are still under INAC,” Guichon said.
Other than attending residential school at St. Joseph’s Mission from Grade 3 to 9, Guichon has lived in his community most of his life.
After attending high school at Williams Lake Secondary, he left to start work in the forest industry where he as remained working throughout his years.
“I started at Eagle Timber Management out of Williams Lake and learned how to timber cruise,” he recalled. “I then worked for Jacobsen and Tolko Riverside and then went to work for Tsi Del Del Enterprises in our community in 1995 to train people.”
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He later became a consultant and worked on forestry contracts, he said.
When asked if he plans to lead the community differently than former Chief Ervin Charleyboy, Guichon said no, but he would like to create more work.
“There’s lots coming up in silviculture and rehabilitation because of the fires,” he explained.
Wildfires in 2017 did not come as close as the ones in 2009 at Lava Canyon and 2010 at Bull Canyon, but the community was surrounded, Guichon said.
“They were west at Kleena Kleene, north at Chezacut and east toward Anaham, then there were the fires south near Nemiah.”
There are about 700 members in the nation and it fluctuates between 330 to 360 living at Redstone.
And with the one hour and 40 minute drive to Williams Lake, Guichon hopes work will be done to repave Highway 20 between Bull Canyon and Pyper Lake.
Design plans have gone through for a new health centre and a water treatment plant was commissioned in 2016.
Other than that, Guichon was in Vancouver last week meeting with his capital management team at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development about a water system for the Michelle Garden housing area east of the graveyard at Redstone.
“The water is not drinkable there so we are trying to get that improved.”
Guichon and his wife, Dinah, have three daughters and two sons, and 12 grandchildren with another one on the way in February. They love to fish, camp and hunt, although they didn’t get to hunt last fall because of the fires.
Anticipating he will have a busy term, Guichon is pleased to be chief at a time when the Tsilhqot’in National Government is negotiating with the provincial and federal governments regarding its Supreme Court Decision win in 2014.
“It is about time,” he said of the decision and the fact all eight judges reached a consensus. “It is good to be finally making headway protecting our territory.”
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