Rosanne Casimir has been re-elected Kúkpi7 (chief) of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation for a second term in elections held Saturday.
Members of the 1,400-member B.C. nation voted Saturday for their Kúkpi7 and seven councillors, who will serve three-year terms.
The councillors elected are Marie Baptiste, Thomas Blank, Nikki Fraser, Joshua Gottfriedson, Justin Gottfriedson, Dave Manuel and Morning-Star Peters. Baptiste, Blank, and Justin Gottfriedson were incumbents heading into the vote.
Casimir first ran for Kúkpi7 of the First Nation three years ago. She has been outspoken internationally after the First Nation announced 200 possible unmarked burial sites at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School were detected by a radar survey in May.
She campaigned on plans to build an elders’ lodge, healing centre and museum for her community.
Also running for the top position were Jeanette Jules and Chad Gottfriedson, both former elected councillors.
According to the election administrators, 488 voters cast ballots in the election. Of those votes, 42 were sent by mail.
More than 1,100 members of the First Nation, formerly known as Kamloops Indian Band, were eligible to vote, out of the community’s roughly 1,400 members.
Casimir received 245 votes, handily beating second-place finisher Jules.
First Nation inspired others
News of the residential school find earlier this year sparked a renewed national outcry.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc inspired many Indigenous communities across Canada to use the technology to search for remains at the former institutions, uncovering hundreds more suspected unmarked burial sites across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the community on Oct. 18, apologizing for having vacationed in B.C. on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and ignoring an invitation to mark the day in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. Trudeau apologized publicly, calling the decision as a “mistake.”
The community plans to hold a swearing-in ceremony for its newly elected leadership at 4:30 p.m. PT on Monday, which will be livestreamed on the First Nation’s Facebook page.
Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential school.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected.
People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line, at 1-866-925-4419.