Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc to elect new chief and council this weekend

·3 min read
People are silhouetted while attending a Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc ceremony to honour residential school survivors and mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in Kamloops, B.C., on Sept. 30, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
People are silhouetted while attending a Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc ceremony to honour residential school survivors and mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in Kamloops, B.C., on Sept. 30, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Members of Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc will go to the polls on Saturday to elect one Kúkpi7 (chief) and seven councillors for a new three-year term.

On Nov. 13, more than 1,100 eligible voters in the First Nation near Kamloops, B.C., will cast their ballots, choosing one Kúkpi7 candidate and between one and seven councillor candidates, at the Moccasin Square Garden community centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT.

The Indigenous community set up advance polls on Nov. 6, and has provided mail-in voting options for its members.

Incumbent Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir ran for the first time three years ago and is now seeking another term.

She says she aims to build an elders' lodge.

Doug Herbert/CBC
Doug Herbert/CBC

"I was very passionate about being able to provide that kind of a service within our community, knowing what our aging population was and … looking at what our elders have been asking for for many decades," Casimir told CBC's Doug Herbert.

She added that she has new priorities after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Kamloops on Oct. 18.

"When he [Trudeau] came to our community and looking at some of the high-level needs that we need, which included a healing centre, a museum, an elders' lodge and looking at how we can address that … it was really, really touching to hear the fact that he included those initiatives in his statement."

Casimir notes that it's important to look at the healing path forward, after the suspected unmarked graves of about 200 children were found near the former Indian Residential School site in Kamloops in May.

"We all need to heal, not only as First Nations, but as a country together — First Nations and non-First Nations," she said.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Coun. Jeanette Jules, one of Casimir's two rivals for the Kúkpi7 position, has healing centres and mental health services for members in her election platform as well, but she is also calling for making better use of the First Nation's land for sustainable economic development.

"We've moved forward with our North Reservoir … and then moving forward on our Mount Paul Industrial Park … moving forward with all of the other economic opportunities, ensuring that we have to get the best out of what we can within our own lands and within our own ancestral lands," she said.

Jules notes that as a residential school survivor, she believes Tk̓emlúps members need to tell more stories about themselves to people outside their community.

"People need to understand that we need to tell our stories, so that there is that understanding and that education that needs to be there. There are so many issues that we're still facing today," she said.

Doug Herbert/CBC
Doug Herbert/CBC

CBC News also requested an interview with Kúkpi7 candidate Coun. Chad Gottfriedson, but he said he wasn't available.

The 12 councillor candidates include:

  • Marie Baptiste.

  • Thomas Blank.

  • Evelyn Camille.

  • Freda Jules.

  • Sonny Joseph Leonard.

  • David Manuel.

  • Nickole Fraser.

  • Joshua Gottfriedson.

  • Justin Gottfriedson.

  • Nicole Peters.

  • Denny Thomas.

  • Viola Thomas.

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