Ervin Charleyboy is back in the saddle.
In an election held Friday at Redstone, the longtime political leader reclaimed his title as chief of Alexis Creek First Nation after a six-year hiatus.
For 20 years, Charleyboy was chief of his community and also served 18 years as the Tsilqot’in National Government tribal chair.
More recently, Charleyboy became better known as an outspoken supporter of the controversial New Prosperity Mine, opposing the six other Tsilhqotpin chiefs he will now be working with.
After being elected chief, Charleyboy said Tuesday he didn’t want to talk about his position on the mine without first meeting with his council, who he was scheduled to see that afternoon.
“I am looking forward to working with the council on a long-term economic vision for our community,” said Charleyboy. “I really want to stress education for our young people.”
TNG tribal chair Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse said Charleboy’s past support of the New Prosperity Mine is water under the bridge as far as he’s concerned.
“When he was outspoken on the issue I often said it was unfortunate that he’d taken the position, but he had family to feed and needed to work too,” Alphonse said.
Even if he doesn’t agree with Charleyboy on the mine, Alphonse said there are lots of things they do agree on.
“A lot of the hard work to win Aboriginal rights and title was done under Ervin’s leadership,” Alphonse added.
“He was chief for 20 years, how can he not have been part of that?”
Charleyboy, who is 71, said he decided to run again because some elders and people in the community asked him to.
“I said sure I’d give it another try, two more years and that’s it.”
His victory was narrow.
His nephew Clayton John Charleyboy received 51 votes and Otis Guichon Sr. obtained 42 votes.
Former Chief Percy Guichon, who chose not to run for chief after serving six years, was elected to band council along with Otis Sr. Guichon, Maryanne Boyd, Rocky Guichon, Clayton Charleyboy and Terry Char.
“I think we have a strong council with lots of continuity,” Guichon said. “We will continue to move forward to help our people and create employment, especially with Tsi Del Del Enterprises.”
He congratulated Charleyboy and thanked staff and council for an “amazing” experience as chief.