While a date has been set for a new Lil'wat election — Saturday, July 11 — at least one prominent name won't be on the ballot.
Chief Lucinda Phillips has withdrawn her name from contention.
In an interview on June 23, Phillips said her decision stemmed from the division left in the community in the wake of last month's election appeal.
"It hit this community pretty hard, and I don't want to be putting my family through this anymore. I don't want to put my community through this anymore," Phillips said.
"I voluntarily stepped down and I actually feel great about it."
Back in March, Phillips was narrowly defeated in the Lil'wat election — the first under its recently passed Election Code.
Dean Nelson was elected Chief and Leonard Andrew was elected Cultural Chief. The pair was to be the first to govern Lil'wat under a two-chief system.
In May, the election results were appealed, citing formality issues.
Phillips explained the appeal in a written statement.
Deaths in the community around the time of the nomination period and Election Day — with nothing specific written into the Election Code to address what should be done in such events — meant a difficult decision for Phillips.
"Lil'wat has strong cultural protocols to respect the family of the deceased and in many cases not hold community events during the time of a community funeral and gathering," Phillips said in her statement.
"As Chief at the time, I was faced with a difficult decision of how the timelines for nomination and Election Day should be met and also honour the wishes of the deceased's families and the community."
Phillips eventually decided to postpone the nomination day and relocate the polling location — though she knew the decisions would leave the election open to an appeal.
On May 14 the appeal board delivered its ruling that the results of the election be overturned and the previous Chief and council be reinstated.
For the Lil'wat Nation, the process is part of the learning curve that comes along with self-governance, Phillips said.
"It is a learning process," she said "Now that we've had our own election, we found a lot of grey holes that we now need to start working on for the next election."
But despite the election turmoil of the past two months, Phillips said she wants to ensure that people know Lil'wat is still open for business.
"We still have a lot of work to do, whether it's the interim Chief and council or the new Chief and council," she said.
"We just wanted to inform the people that we are still open for business, and we as a community still look forward to working with our joint partners within the Village of Pemberton, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District or with the RMOW."
For updates on the upcoming Lil'wat election, check www.lilwat.ca.
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