Chief Joe Alphonse re-elected in Anaham

Joe Alphonse talks about his re-election for chief of Anaham.

Tl’etinqox-t’in (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse is in for a third term as chief after an election for chief and council was held on the reserve Feb. 1.

“We got 12 councillors and six of those are new,” Alphonse said Monday.

The chief and council go into effect immediately and Alphonse said he will meet with the new councillors as soon as possible.

“The old councillors know the ropes, it’s just the new guys coming on. We’ll have our first official meeting as a council on Thursday to go over roles and responsibilities.”

At that meeting, they will assign councillors to serve on various Aboriginal organizations in Williams Lake such as the Tsilhqot’in National Government, and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society. They will determine who the community’s signees will be for the coming year and who will take over various portfolio assignments.

Council will also be briefed on its financial and reporting obligations.

Alphonse said the deficits that have plagued his community will be solved soon, making it the first time in 20 years the community will be out of a deficit.

“When we got elected we inherited those deficits and four years later we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s exciting for our community and everyone involved.”

A deficit situation makes it difficult to do any planning or programs, he added.

“When I compare us to some of the other Tsilhqot’in communities, I think it’s been difficult for us to plan.”

Band challenges he pegged include dealing with Taseko Mines Ltd. as a company and pursuing the aboriginal rights and title William case that will be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada in November.

There are water flow concerns on the Anaham Creek system, as well as planning for a new school, slated for construction in 2013.

“As a community we will continue to work on land use plans. And just like any other community, job creation and job opportunity.”

The election results are an endorsement from the community, Alphonse suggested.

“I think we are on the right path and we are doing what the community wants us to do. Protection of our lands, our territories, raising the profile of our community, and taking care of the finances of the community.”

Voter turnout was below 50 per cent, which Alphonse said was disappointing, however he said a large portion of the population is under 19.

“Either way I think the community has spoken. We’re committed to continuing with an open and transparent government representing our community.