Lil’wat face many choices for council 

Bikadi drops out but still 45 candidates for 12 positions; six stand for chief

The Lil'wat Nation has a full election slate with very few dropouts after initial nominations.

Six people will stand for chief and 45 will run for 12 council positions. Candidates for chief include incumbent Leonard Andrew, former chief negotiator Lyle Leo and current councillors Bruce Edmonds and Lois Joseph. Christopher Wells, who sought the chief's seat in the last election, is running again.

Joanne John, also a current councillor, has stepped out of contention for the chief's position, but she's still running for a council seat.

Among those running for chief, Edmonds, Joseph and Wells are also seeking council seats. Other candidates for council include incumbent councillors Ruth Dick, Chris Irving, Martina Pierre, Alphonse Wallace, Lucinda Williams, Patricia Williams and Morgan Wells.

Candidates from outside the current council include Marie Abraham, a counselor with the Southern Stl'atl'imx Health Society; Alex Wells, a former World Champion Hoop Dancer; and Frank Wallace, a former counselor with the Mount Currie Health Centre.

Greg Bikadi, president of the Lil'wat Business Corporation, has dropped out of the race to avoid an apparent conflict of interest by taking two salaries.

Rosalin Sam, a Lil'wat activist who helped organize a protest against the proposed Cayoosh Ski Resort on Mount Currie, is seeking a council seat. She feels that "lots of changes" need to happen within her community.

"I just received the list of the nominees and I was looking," she said. "Usually some people drop out after being nominated, but I looked and there's not very many that dropped out, and that shows that there needs to be big change done in our community."

If elected, Sam hopes to see changes in areas such as education and particularly health.

"Our health system is definitely out of whack," she said. "We need a health director, we need good workers that will stay, and it's not there."

The biggest health problems around Mount Currie include alcohol and disease, according to Sam, who added that diabetes is particularly widespread among people within her community. What's needed, she said, is more health workers.

"We do have some good workers, but a lot of our other workers have gone and it's hard to get other people to replace them," she said. "I don't know why they left, it's hard to say."

Lucinda Phillips is a former councillor who stepped down from her seat on the 2005 to 2007 council to manage the Lil'wat Nation's Land and Resources Department, which oversees the use of land within the Nation's traditional territory.

She said the next council will have a queue of issues and projects to deal with during its tenure.

"There's obviously the legacy lands coming up," Phillips said. "With the Olympic legacy lands, there's 600 acres that are (jointly owned by) Squamish and Lil'wat, that's a project that should be coming up pretty quick."

Other land issues include a gas station at Function Junction to be managed jointly by the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations. The Nations are planning to develop a 5,000 square metre station on a plot of land located between Highway 99 and the railway, immediately south of Alpha Lake Road.

Whether the gas station becomes a reality remains up in the air, and that could be up to the new council, according to Phillips.

"I know they have planners and consultants looking at whether that gas station is feasible or not," she said. "Whether it's going ahead or not, I really don't know. Those are kind of higher-level political discussions that I'm not privy to."

Ultimately, economic development is one of the biggest issues that the next council will deal with. With a proposed gas station, a concrete plant operating along Highway 99 and Lil'wat members working as construction workers to improve the Sea to Sky Highway, there's plenty happening already, but more could be coming down the road.

"We didn't have these opportunities back in the day," Phillips said. "Five years ago I don't think we had the opportunity to buy fee simple lands or to get access to fee simple lands... We are now having some of these opportunities come our way, which is exciting."

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