Some new faces and returning members are running in this year’s Kitsumkalum band elections.
Fifteen people were nominated in January to have their names on the ballot to secure the chief councillor’s seat or one of the seven councillor slots.
Two candidates, Janice Pearl Robinson and councillor Troy Alexander Sam are running against long-time chief Don Roberts, who has been in the position for the past 12 years.
Six of the seven current councillors are running for a seat again: Kathy Wesley, Lisa Wesley, Troy Sam, Kenny Brown, Wayne Bolton and Cynthia Bolton. Councillor Susan Spalding, who has served for 20 years, will not be seeking re-election to focus on family and teaching career.
Troy Sam, who is running for both the chief and councillor position, says if elected to either post he would focus on engaging youth to be more interested in treaty negotiations and land code, and use a “more modern” approach to bring members of the band council together to move forward on goals identified by the Kitsumkalum community.
“We want to try and get back to the old days when we had a pretty strong volunteer fire department and a really strong community where everybody worked together,” Sam says. “Encouraging the next generation to step up — everyone’s starting to get into retirement age, [we should] see how we can learn from our leaders while they’re still here so we don’t have such a steep learning curve when it is our turn to steer the ship.”
Janice Pearl Robinson says if elected, she would work to repair relationships between the Kitsumkalum Band council and Tsimshian hereditary chiefs, who she says feel ignored by treaty negotiations led by the current Kitsumkalum band council.
“It is not possible for any hereditary, Tsimshian Simoyget to sign any treaties. It’s not possible, yet Don Roberts is trying to pound that treaty home, all for the sake of a pipeline to the coast,” she says of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline which would feed the LNG Canada plant at Kitimat. “Kitsumkalum Village needs to reconcile itself with our Tsimshian Nation, and focus on serving its members.”
Robinson says she would also push for development of more resources and services on Kitsumkalum reserve lands to both better service members and encourage young people to move back. Kitsumkalum has around 750 members, but most of them live off reserve, she says.
After multiple requests, Chief Don Roberts was not available to comment.
Others looking at a spot on council are Aaron Horner, Richard Armin Musterer, Neil Okabe, Tracy Selina, Margret Sam, Charlene Webb and James Webb.
Nominated for fourth time, Aaron Horner says he also wants to focus on the involvement of younger generations and bring a different perspective to council.
Attempts to reach other councillor nominees were unsuccessful at press time.
An all-candidates forum will not be held at ‘Na Aksa Gyilak’yoo School “due to circumstances out of our control,” according to a Kitsumkalum press release. Instead, nominees are asked to submit candidate statements to email@example.com.
The band elections are held every two years. Voting for the chief councillor and seven councillor positions will take place this Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kitsumkalum Community Hall on Hwy 16 West. A mail-in voting package was sent to off-reserve voters who have an address with the band council. If missed, contact the electoral officer and ask to have one sent. All mail-in ballots must be received before polls close.