Candidates for the Nuxalk Chief and Council were confirmed last week. There are eight candidates running for the position of chief: two-time incumbent Wally Webber, Theresa Hood, Ian Pootlass, Chantelle Saunders, Jessica Saunders, John Schooner, Sam Schooner, and Peter Tallio.
Incumbent Wally Webber has served two full terms as Chief since being elected in 2013. Spencer Siwallace was elected in 2007 for two terms before losing to Andrew Andy in 2011. Andy then served one term before losing to Webber in 2013.
There are 43 candidates running for twelve councillor positions. These are: Altethea Andy, Jennifer Andy, Robert Andy Jr., Trudy Andy, Jeannette Apps, Fiona Edgar, Gordon Edgar Sr., Melvin Edgar, Darlene Hall, Richard Hall, Marietta Hans, Marshall Hans Jr., Louise Hilland, Blair Mack, Harvey Mack, James Mack Sr., Marvin Mack, Mary Mack, Marybeth Mack, Kenneth Morton, Rhonda Morton, Charles Nelson, Jimmy Nelson Jr., Louis Nelson Sr., Stephanie (Spuxta) Nelson, Archie Pootlass, Dallas Pootlass, Ian Pootlass, Chantelle Saunders, Carl Schooner, Jamie Schooner, Patrick Schooner, Sharon Schooner, Albert (Buddy) Siwallace, Trent Siwallace, Rita Svisdahl, Crystal Tallio, Donna Tallio, Ivan Tallio, Jerry Tallio, Peter Tallio, June Webber and Monica Wolgien.
The Federal Indian Act requires that bands hold elections every two years for both Chief and Councilor positions. This has long been a source of contention for many bands, who maintain that the legislation is crippling and restricts bands from moving forward with their affairs. There is the possibility for a band to create its own ‘custom code’ for elections, but this is a lot of work. The Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella has done just that, but not without years of effort.
Jana Jackson of the Heiltsuk Nation, who worked on the changing the code, confirmed this wholeheartedly. “It’s a lot of work and takes a long time,” she said in 2009. “The community consultation process takes years, and the final code must be voted on and approved by both a certain percentage of band members and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.”
However, the Heiltsuk Nation now has its own custom code and elections are staggered to take place on two and four year terms for both Chief and Councilor positions, something that they feel allows for more continuity in managing their affairs.