Incumbent chief ousted in Peerless/Trout First Nation election

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It may be too early to call it a trend, but two elections last week resulted in two women being elected chiefs of their respective First Nations. One day after Bigstone members chose Clara Moberly to be their leader, Peerless Trout First Nation voters ousted incumbent James Alook in favour of Gladys Okemow.

Only those two people ran for chief.

That is unusual; a half dozen or more would be more normal, says a source with experience in First Nations elections. He figures the opposition to Alook agreed a single opponent was the best way to defeat the incumbent chief. If so, it worked.

Okemow is new to council. She previously worked as an addictions councillor in the community.

Two council positions were also up for election – one each from Trout Lake and Peerless Lake. The successful candidates were Mark Cardinal and Corinne Alook.

Four people ran for each of those two council positions. In Trout Lake the three unsuccessful candidates were Julius Nanemahoo, Daniel Noskiye and Grant Okemow. In Peerless, the three runners-up were Paul Houle, William Houle and Gary Noskiye.

The vote counts were not included in the election results posted on the PTFN website.

James Alook had been chief since Peerless Trout FN got its status in 2010. Prior to that both communities had been hamlets in the M.D. of Opportunity.

Okemow now presides over a council of five (including herself); besides the two new members it includes Gilbert Okemow and Judy Sinclair. Unlike many other First Nations, Peerless Trout has a staggered system of electing councillors, with only two seats being up for election at a time.

As for the actual vote counts, band manager Jason Wigdon told The Leader on Friday he hadn’t received those yet. Calls to the elections officer hadn’t been returned by press time.

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