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Lil'wat Nation elects new council

The results are in: Gélpcal Ashley Josep re-elected Cultural Chief; five incumbents and six new officials named to council
Lil'wat Nation members re-elected Gélpcal Ashley Joseph—seen here delivering a TEDxWhistler talk at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in 2021—as Cultural Chief on Saturday, July 15.

Six new names will appear alongside some familiar faces at the Lil'wat Nation council table this summer. 

With polls closed and the hundreds of ballots cast during the First Nation's 2023 election on Saturday, July 15 now counted, the new councillors will officially serve alongside five incumbents and two returning chiefs for the next four years. 

Voters in Mount Currie on Saturday re-elected artist Gélpcal Ashley Joseph as Cultural Chief, after he was first elected to the position in 2019. Joseph won by a wide margin: he earned 293 votes this time around, compared to the 44 ballots cast for Cultural Chief candidate Maureen Andy and 120 for Vaughan Gabriel. 

Community members also voted to re-elect councillors Kík7ak Helena Edmonds, Lhpatq Maxine Joseph Bruce, Saw̓t Martina A. Pierre, Háma7 Alphonse Wallace and Renee Wallace. Joining the incumbents on the 11-member council are newcomers Stksik Joshua Anderson, Troy Leonard Bikadi, Xzúmalus Roxanne Joe, Rilla Sampson, Christopher Wells and James Williams.

With 256 votes, Anderson earned the most support out of the nearly three-dozen council hopefuls on the ballot. Thirty-five candidates initially accepted council nominations in June of this year. By voting day, only one of those candidates had withdrawn, while another, Eagle Leo, was listed as deceased. Mámaya7 Lois Joseph was the sole incumbent candidate who was not voted in for another council term in 2023. 

The election results come after Skalúlmecw Dean Nelson was acclaimed as Lil'wat Nation Political Chief last month. He was the only candidate in the running for the position following a nomination meeting at U̓ll̓us Community Complex on June 1. 

The former Xet̓ólacw Community School P.E. teacher served two terms on council before he was elected Political Chief in March 2015—a decision confirmed in a re-election that July, and again in 2019. That made Nelson Lil'wat Nation's first Political Chief elected under a new provision allowing for a four-year term in office, and under a new two-chief leadership structure. Prior to 2015, Lil'wat Nation operated under the governance of one chief and 12 councillors.

Voters cast a total of 463 ballots for both Cultural Chief and council this year, compared to the 575 tallied during Lil'wat Nation's last election in 2019. 

Lil'wat Nation counted a total registered population of 2,274 members as of June 2023. About 1,488 of those individuals live on-reserve in Mount Currie, making the Lil'wat the third largest First Nation in British Columbia.

The community is invited to bring their drums and join Lil'wat Nation's newly-elected chiefs and council for an inauguration celebration at U̓ll̓us Community Complex on Tuesday, July 25 at 6 p.m.