Kitselas First Nation elects new chief councillor

Joe Bevan to lead Kitselas First Nation which is located near Terrace, BC

JOE Bevan has been elected chief councillor of the Kitselas First Nation in a vote conducted yesterday.

Bevan, who has had three years of experience as a councillor, received 87 votes compared to 65 for his closest challenger, Glenn Bennett, who at one time was chief councillor.

Debbie Moore ran third with 34 votes and Shirley Gray fourth with 20 votes.

Five people were elected to the Kitselas councillor with Clarisa Spencer, a member of the Kitselas First Nation’s treaty negotiations team, placing first with 91 votes. This is to be her first term on council.

Placing second with 89 votes was incumbent Gerald Seymour, third with 78 votes was incumbent Wilfred Bennett Sr., fourth with 74 votes was incumbent Web Bennett and fifth with 72 votes was Judy Gerow.

Gerow had been chief councillor for the past two years but decided not to run for the top spot again.

Eighteen people in all ran for the five council seats.

Kitselas First Nation voters earlier this year approved of a land claims treaty agreement in principle with the federal and provincial governments containing land, cash and self government provisions.

It is now providing the basis for talks leading to a final agreement.

The Kitselas First Nation is also involved in several high profile economic activities.

It cleared the right of way on its traditional territory for BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line now under construction and also cleared right of way on its traditional territory for the Pacific Trails Pipeline, the natural gas line that would feed a planned liquefied natural gas plant at Kitimat.

The Kitselas have to main residential areas – one along Queensway in Thornhill and a second location, a larger one at Gitaus which is east of Terrace on Hwy16.

In a campaign statement, Bevan called for an “agenda of economic development to set ourselves up pre-Treaty so that we don’t miss out on the economic development coming our way.”

He said companies need to know that develop on Kitselas traditional territory can only happen with the involvement of the first nation.

Bevan acknowledged that fishery resources so far have not been included in treaty talks, noting that people have told him they will not vote in favour of a final treaty if provisions for fishery resources aren’t included.

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