Joe Alphonse has been re-elected as Chief of Tl'etinqox (Anaham) for a fifth consecutive term.

Joe Alphonse has been re-elected as Chief of Tl'etinqox (Anaham) for a fifth consecutive term.

UPDATED: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse re-elected for fifth consecutive term

Joe Alphonse has been re-elected as Chief of Tl'etinqox (Anaham) First Nation for the fifth consecutive term.

Joe Alphonse has been re-elected as Chief of Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation for a fifth consecutive term with 43 per cent of the votes.

During the band’s election held Monday, Feb. 20, he garnered  210 votes, according to a statement of vote posted by Loreen Surh & Associates Consulting.

“I think that’s a good strong mandate,” Alphonse said of his win. “The community has spoken.”

His opponents Gerald Johnny received 129 votes, Ashton Cooper 74, Aggie Harry 32, Chezzeray Alphonse 26 and Fanny Stump 10.

The councillors voted in were Randy Billyboy with 115 votes, Dona Cooper with 90, Eleanor Cooper with 89, Harvey Dick with 130, Daana Gilpin with 111, Cecil Grinder with 194, Paul Grinder with 108, Brendon Harry with 89, Isidore Harry with 106, Tyron Harry with 95, Gerald Johnny with 149, and George Mack with 88.

“The election was a very emotional time,” Alphonse said. “In our communities we know everyone and all the candidates.”

Being in leadership of a First Nations community is complicated, Alphonse said.

“It is a real learning curve especially for the Tsilhqot’in people because we are beginning to get recognized by B.C. and Canada. That work is really just beginning.”

Financial accounting is also critical work because bands are required to do reporting on a daily basis with as many as 140 reports and audits done throughout the year, he added.

Under his leadership four new homes have been built and within the next few months the band will be accepting applications from people in the community wanting to move into them.

One of the homes, however, is being saved as a safe house for children and youth.

“We stepped away from Denisiqi Services Society a year ago and will be completely out by the end of March,” Alphonse said. “We are trying to make  steps to take more ownership and if there are children at risk then we will do the intervention. Maybe the parents are taken away but we can use that fourth home to house the children.”

Drugs and alcohol are a problem with some members in his community, but as a leader he said it is important not to look down on those people but encourage them to make changes.

“The majority of our people in Anaham are living clean and sober lives,” he added.

Alphonse is the first Tl’etinqox Chief to be elected for five consecutive terms.

His late grandfather, Chief Casimir Bob was hereditary chief for 33 years, but that was not an elected position.

Presently the band is under the two-year elected terms stipulated by Indigenous and Northern Affairs, which Alphonse said can be complicated.

“In the future we need to have a hard look at that because we are almost at a point where we need community chiefs and political chiefs,” he noted. “Before contact our communities had different chiefs as various leaders at the same time.”

Thanking everyone for their support and prayers from all across the Tsilhqot’in and beyond, Alphonse said he was nervous about the election.

“You can never be too confident or sure in today’s day and age, especially with all the comments on social media,” he said, noting he is looking forward to getting back to work because the election put everything on hold for a couple of months.