Tk’emlups Indian Band members chose Shane Gottfriedson as their chief for the fourth time on Saturday.
“I’m honoured, humbled and blessed to be given the fortune of being able to lead our people,” he said.
Gottfriedson was elected to a three-year term along with three incumbents, councillors Fred Seymour, Jeannette Jules, Rosanne Joan Casimir, and four new councillors, Colleen Mosterd-McLean, Richard Jules, Ed Jensen and Katy Gottfriedson, the re-elected chief’s first cousin.
Shane Gottfriedson earned 250 votes to opponent Marie Baptiste’s 103.
Through his nine years in office, he’s learned that First Nations politics is a challenge few can understand.
“First Nations politics are different than any other kind of politics,” he said. “You have so many challenges as First Nations people with legislation that works so hard against us, we have to develop these partnerships and look at economic development as the way of the future.”
The former ironworker’s popularity may be connected to his unwavering platform of economic growth and fighting for aboriginal rights and titles such as the Douglas Reserve.
The band will meet on Dec. 4 with federal and provincial negotiators to discuss settling a historical land claim that would add 55,000 hectares to its territory.
Under his watch, the band became debt-free and acquired 10 corporations operated by the band with increasing annual surpluses.
In 2008, the band received the Community Economic Developer of the Year Award from the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO).
Gottfriedson’s achievements continue a family tradition of trailblazers. His grandfather Gus Gottfriedson was also a band chief, his grandmother successfully lobbied the federal government to return status recognition to the First Nations women and his mother was B.C.’s first aboriginal support worker in the public school system.
The incoming councillors also bring knowledge, experience and unique qualities to strengthen the band, said Gottfriedson.
Mosterd-McLean, who served as a councillor once before under Chief Manny Jules, brings “a lot of energy and experience,” said Gottfriedson.
Richard Jules served with four different chiefs and qualifies as a veteran politician.
Ed Jensen comes into his first term in public office with a construction and comprehensive planning background.
And the youngest candidate, 24-year-old Katy Gottfriedson, brings her youthful outlook as well as her higher education from Thompson Rivers University.
“I think we’ve got a very (well) rounded council,” said Shane Gottfriedson while acknowledging the work of the outgoing councillors Evelyn Camille, Connie Leonard and Dolan Paul.
“It’s always a hard thing when you get defeated but I think the three of them really worked hard for the community and really put good positive energy into what they did and they represented our community well.”
The swearing-in ceremony for the chief and council will be held today.
Eligible voters: 570
Total votes cast: 353
Shane Gottfriedson: 250
Marie Baptiste: 103
Fred Seymour: 229
Colleen Mosterd-McLean: 210
Richard Jules: 202
Ed Jensen: 195
Jeanette Jules: 181
Rosanne Joan Casimir: 170
Katy Gottfriedson: 167
Number of votes for losing candidates was not available at press time.