Cowichan Tribes announces new Chief, councillors following 2024 election

Cowichan Tribes announces new Chief, councillors following 2024 election
Photo: Cowichan Tribes
Cindy Daniels is seen in this picture provided by Cowichan Tribes.

Change is coming to Cowichan Tribes, the largest single-band First Nation in British Columbia, as members have elected a new chief and council.

The election was held on Thursday, March 7, when members were invited to cast ballots in person at Si’em Lelum Gym in Duncan. Despite the Nation’s large population, less than 1,200 people voted.

With a total of 414 votes in her favour, Cindy Daniels will be the Nation’s new chief. She beat out incumbent Lydia Hwitsum, who was re-elected to the role in 2022 following four two-year terms, according to information on the Nation’s website.

Daniels is quite familiar with the Chief role. In 2021, she served as Acting Chief, and was also the Nation’s general manager between 2017 and 2018. She was first elected to Cowichan Tribes’ council back in 2009, her bio reads.

The official count of declaration was posted to the Nation’s Facebook and lists Hwitsum with 294 votes, Howie George coming third with 259 votes, and Troy Elliot with 125 votes. Hwiemtun Roland and Richard Williams received 64 and 28 votes, respectively.

Several returning councillors, as well as new ones, will join Daniels to form the council that governs the Nation. There are 12 councillors in total.

The incumbents are Francine Alphonse, Jennifer Charlie, Howie George, Calvin Jr. Swustus, and Calvin Sr. Swustus, who received 688 votes, the most of any councillor. Christopher Alphonse, Tasha Brooks, Troy Elliott, Audrey George, Terri Nadine George, Amanda Sylvester and Debra-Ann Toporowski are the new councillors.

READ ALSO: Former Cowichan Tribes Chief dies at 73, remembered as ‘valuable contributor’

At Si’em Lelum Gym, the electoral officer announced the results live on Facebook and received a round of applause from others there after reading out all the names.

But the 2024 election was unlike past ones.

Previously, Cowichan Tribes elections were held every two years. Last September, the Nation introduced a new custom election law, so now the terms are four years long.

The Nation is inviting members to join them for the inauguration of Chief and council, which is happening Wednesday, March 13, at 6 p.m. People can visit Cowichan Tribes’ Facebook page for more information.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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