IT’S a crowded field as Kitselas First Nations voters go to the polls June 12 to select a chief councillor and six council members.
Current chief councillor Joe Bevan, first elected in 2013 and again in 2015, faces eight challengers including Glenn Bennett, a former chief councillor. The other seven are Mel Bevan, a former Kitselas chief land claims negotiator, William Bolton, Chad Gerow, Shirley Gray, Jodie McKay, Freda Wright and Lynn Wright-Parker.
All six members of the current council are running – Clarisa Spencer, Roxanne Ridler, Judy Gerow (who is also a former chief councillor), Gerald Seymour, Lynn Wright-Parker and Wilfred Bennett Sr.
They’ll face 17 challengers – Web Bennett, Cyril Bennett-Nabess, Sue Bevan, William Bolton, Jeanette Costello, Maria Duncan, Marlene George, Shirley Gray, Lloyd McDames, Aaron McMillan, Corrina Rose Miller, Debbie Moore, Dwayne Ridler, James Seymour, Dawn Wale, Freda Wright and Victor Wright.
Kitselas First Nations elections are held under Indian Act regulations which call for votes every two years.
People can also run for a chief’s position as well as a council position at the same time.
The Indian Act also indicates a First Nation can have one councillor for every 100 members so with approximately 650 members, the council consists of six people.
The election cycle began with a May 1 nomination date at the Kitselas main administrative building at the Gitaus subdivision east of Terrace on Hwy16.
Those nominated had five days to withdraw, explained electoral officer Loreen Suhr who will oversee the vote.
Suhr, who runs a firm in Prince George which acts for many First Nations voting requirements when it comes to council elections, referenda and land claims treaties, will have two polling stations on election day – one at the Gitaus main administration office and the other at the satellite health station at the other Kitselas subdivision on Kulspai just off of Queensway.
“We encourage band members to come in for the count. We want everything to be very open and transparent,” she said. Mailed-in balloting is permitted to Suhr’s Prince George office.
The Kitselas First Nation has taken an active role in the provincial government’s attempt to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry by signing numerous agreements with the province tied to natural gas pipeline and LNG plant construction.