The Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake Band) has elected Clayton Charlie as the band’s new chief.
The band held a re-election for the position of chief on April 14 after former chief Ray Gerow resigned.
The chief election had four candidates for chief, Clayton Charlie, Dan George, Albert L. Gerow and Ryan Tibbetts.
Charlie won the election with 24 votes, closely followed by Gerow at 23 votes, Tibbetts at 22 votes and George at 4 votes.
During an all-candidates meeting held on March 18, Charlie had said that one of the primary reasons for his running for the chief was because “it is time to think different, expect different and vote different.” He also said that the band was in a very critical time with little-to no knowledge of the dealings from the past several years, the finances are not in any form or order and that the staff and council are one and the same. He also said that he intended to eliminate nepotism and lateral violence.
In a Facebook post, Gerow congratulated Charlie and said, “Elections can be hard on people, families can become polarized, and it can divide communities, even families and friends. You made some promises to be inclusive and bring the whole community together, among other promises. In which I’m happy to help with, because our future generations depends on it. I further want to wish you and your families all the best.”
Last year, the band held elections for chief and council in November and elected Ray Gerow as their new chief and Chickey Lorentz and Cecelia Sam as council. However, three months after the elections, Gerow stepped down, citing health reasons.
The process for the chief’s election was started soon after this.
The election has however been under attack on social media with band members claiming the election was “stolen”. Election Officer Loreen Suhr however told Lakes District News that the election was conducted following the First Nations Elections Act and that she stood by the results.
“Band members had several days to request a ballot right from February. We have just gone through this process in November and it is not new to them. Still, some people didn’t request ballots early enough and so there is no way they would get their ballots in time,” she said.
“All the ballots that I received were processed and counted. If they phoned me in time I have sent them a second ballot and even a third ballot. So, due diligence was done to ensure all band members who requested a ballot on time, got one,” said Suhr, “I had people requesting the ballot the night before the election at 11 p.m. How am I going to get that to you in time? Members have a responsibility to ask for a ballot in a timely fashion. I had 11 people request the ballot after Apr. 5. So how are those ballots even going to get back and forth in time?”
There were also allegations going around that ballots weren’t getting delivered and had an incorrect return address. Suhr said she had done her due diligence of posting all the ballots as and when requested. Postal delays were out of her hands. She also said that just two ballots returned to her that were discarded due to either illegible writing or error on the sender’s end. In fact, she said one of those was given the option of receiving a second ballot which he didn’t take.
Suhr also said that band members have the right to appeal the election if they want but just spreading discontent over social media was not right.