By Dan Walton
Barbara Cote was named the new chief of the Shuswap Band at the new councils first meeting on Monday, November 10th.
After winning one of three seats on council in the bands November 7th election alongside Timothy Eugene and Rosalita Pascal Ms. Cote was elevated to the position of chief at the new councils first meeting. With the greatest number of votes among any of the candidates, Ms. Cote was also the only councillor to win re-election.
Im really pleased to be working with the other two councillors, she said. We all come from different areas of expertise people are going to be looked after. There will be lots of opportunities that we didnt have before.
The election garnered national attention upon the revelation of the previous chief and one councillors salaries, which exceeded $200,000 respectively. Ms. Cote was earning a relatively low figure of $57,700. The new councils level of compensation will not exceed what Ive ever made,thats for sure, she said.
Councillor Eugene said that only good can come from Fridays results. He hopes to erase the mentality of us and them among band members.
The first order of business under the new council will be to facilitate Ida Rivers property with functioning water and sewer, Chief Cote said. As featured in a National Post article published last week, Ms. Rivers living condition epitomizes the level of inequality on the reserve.
Less urgent issues will be sorted out once the new council is brought up to speed, Chief Cote said.
We have to learn about what bank accounts we have; whats owing. We are just inundated with so many things right now that were just trying to prioritize what we need to do, its a big maze.
Before their meeting on Monday, Chief Cote said a formal council meeting had not been held in eight years. Only a chief can call a meeting she said, so council will be meeting every Friday under her leadership.
In addition to Ms. Cote receiving the greatest number of votes, the decision by council to declare her chief was based on her role as a retiree of School District 6, which grants her the most time to dedicate to the job.
Ill be available all the time, just a phone call away, she said.
Asked about the possibility of restructuring the Kinbasket Development Corporation, Chief Cote said professional consultation will be needed.
Were not aware at this time what should be done. There are a lot of legalities to sort out. Well bring in the experts to help us with that, she said.
And the Kinbasket Development Corporation will have some work to do after the completion of some upcoming road work. Chief Cote said the Ministry of Transportation has plans to widen Highway 93/95 along the intersection into Invermere, and upon completion, the Shuswap will have more land available for commercial lease.
Council will be deciding on a new level of compensation at the next council meeting on Friday, November 21st.