Chief Whitehead declines leadership nomination
ʔaq’am Chief encourages next generation of leadership
On Wednesday, September 7, the ʔaq’am community held its nomination meeting for the 2016 St. Mary’s Band Custom Election for chief and council.
The result of the meeting was the promise of at least one new leader in ʔaq’am.
The ʔaq’am community rotates its leadership elections every two years. Councillor Vickie Thomas and Councillor Corrie Walkley will remain with leadership for two more years of their four-year term. While the seats of Chief Jim Whitehead (pictured above) and councillors Codie Morigeau and Richard ‘Marty’ Williams are up for election.
Councillors Morigeau and Williams were not in attendance at the meeting but confirmed their nomination in advance by letter of acceptance. Surprise came to those in attendance when Chief Whitehead was nominated, but declined to accept the nomination.
“This was not an easy decision,” stated Whitehead. “I couldn’t leave until I knew that I was leaving behind a solid team; once the nominations closed and the candidates were declared, I had immediate confidence that this was the case…it’s time to give the young blood a chance.”
Chief Whitehead has served on council for an astonishing 32 years.
Whitehead’s decline of acceptance results in the community being in the position to nominate at least one new member of council, and ultimately a new Chief for ʔaq’am. Two additional individuals also declined their nominations at the meeting, or shortly after. The final list of candidates are as follows: Codie Morigeau; Julie Birdstone; Bonnie Harvey; Rod Birdstone; Joe Pierre Jr.; and Richard ‘Marty’ Williams.
According to the 2016 St. Mary’s Indian Band Custom Election Act: “The councillors with the most votes will be the Chief Councillor. If the person with the most votes does not wish to hold this position, then the five councillors will agree among themselves who will hold the Chief Councillor position, of the three recently elected Councillors.” Three of the six above candidates will become ʔaq’am’s new members of chief and council; with the one with the most votes possibly being named Chief.
The All Candidates Forum will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 14. The Custom Election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26 in the ʔaq’am boardroom.