Judy Wilson has been re-elected as chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band.
Wilson won handily on Jan. 26 with 85 votes over Gary Wiens’ 38 and Bert Deneault with 28.
Winning the six council seats were incumbent Joan Manuel with 103 votes, incumbent Rock Denault with 94, Martin Sauls, 85, Karen August, 74, former chief and councillor Art Anthony, 74, and Randy Sam, 66.
During the swearing-in ceremony, the grand chief and former chiefs and councils came up and acknowledged the outgoing council with a blanket wrap, dance and honour song.
Outgoing councillors were Randy Narcisse, Tammy Thomas and Tracy Holloway.
Coun. Neski Manuel died last year.
Wilson explains that the blanket wrap is done in powwows and shows respect and appreciation. As well, the outgoing councillors were the focus of an honour song, one of the highest honours to “acknowledge them and the work they’ve done for our people,” she said.
Then elders in attendance acknowledged and recognized the incoming council, which will serve a three-year term.
Of 480 eligible voters, 151 cast ballots.
Wilson said the count was done in the old-school way, with each ballot read out as it was counted. It made for a long night, she said, but it’s important that elders and the community can validate the vote.
Wilson, who was first elected chief in 2007, said her focus for the campaign was “strengthening, shared responsibility for family, community and the lands. I’ll continue that approach in 2012 in my term, and working with the people not only on title rights and the economy – all that will be brought to our people to have input in decisions to bring a mandate to council.”
She said Neskonlith communities on the three reserves in Chase and Salmon Arm made it clear they want their chief and council to work with them, and she will continue to do that.
“I look to moving our community forward on caring for our lands we’re responsible for in our territory… and all the social, housing and community needs of our people. And that means we have to engage the province and federal governments on these issues and find sustainable solutions.”
She concluded: “Councils will come and go, but the people will always have to live with those decisions – that’s why people have to be involved.”
Wilson also expressed her gratitude to the outgoing council.
“They sure had a lot of tremendous skill and knowledge they brought to the table. I look forward to keep working with them in the community.”