Chief, councillor re-elected; one new councillor
By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Shuswap Band elected council members on October 31 in its first election since 2018. Richard Martin was elected as a new council member; Mark Thomas will remain in his role of councillor, and Barb Cote will continue her lead as chief for another four-year term.
Votes came in both through mail in ballots and onsite at the band office on election day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. An election that once took place biannually, when Shuswap Band followed the Indian Act Election code, now happens every four years, since the Shuswap Band began following the First Nations Election Act. Shuswap Band council members are currently working towards creating their own election code which will be more aligned with the needs of the Shuswap community.
“I am very proud and happy that our community voted me back in as chief. It shows that they are happy with how our council is making changes that better serve our community on and off the reserve,” said Chief Cote. “The council wishes to express our thanks to outgoing councillor, Tim Eugene, who has done so much for our community in the last eight years and with all his expertise, I know many new doors will be open for him in the near future.”
What are the plans for the Band’s near future? Chief Cote said that as a working council there are plenty of things to keep them occupied, such as going through portfolios and as a group, discussing changes that best fit the needs and alignments of the Shuswap Band and the community.
Prior to this election, the former council was in the development stages of a five-year strategic plan aimed to focus on six areas: 1. natural environment; 2. social, culture and health; 3. economy and wealth; 4. governance; 5. Built infrastructure and; 8. education and human development. Chief Cote said each of these areas council will be working on comes with an extensive to-do list to accomplish.
“We have broken it down into one-year increments and came up with a budget on each one,” she said. “It was many months of hard work and thought put into this five-year plan and it is so rewarding to see our community on and off reserve be a part of the growth for themselves, for their children and for future generations.”
Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer