After a short day at the polls, the West Point by-election results are in, and so is the new blood.
Gwen Cayen was elected as chief of the small community on May 16.
She was elected in with 10 votes, in a community of 29 eligible voters, beating out Courtney Cayen with six votes.
As chief, Cayen is hoping to visit members and determine their needs, and generally be there for the community. Cayen, a former councillor who left her seat to run for chief, has never been elected chief before – a change from previous decades of specific individuals getting elected in and taking on that role.
“This is new for me,” she said. “The previous chiefs have been in more than once and that’s not the way it is for me. But I ran because I felt I could do it. I feel good about it.”
The by-election was called when former chief, Abner Cayen, stepped down on April 29 because of personal reasons, leaving the position vacant. He was voted into the position last year.
The election also filled two vacant seats on council, including the one left vacant by Cayen. Lucille Lafferty received 15 votes, and Sonya Frise 12, earning them their positions, while Kandis Thomas received eight votes.
Cayen does not regret leaving her position on council.
“I feel like I can get more stuff accomplished,” she said. “I think I can get the band office in West Point moving in the right direction and do what the band members want.”
“What people in the community want, is healing,” said Cayen.
She said community members are in need of more programs for healing for individuals and the community. Cayen said that she thinks these and other initiatives will help in bringing the people back together.
She feels it’s something that’s been lacking, that programs have been attempted before but have been unsuccessful.
“I don’t know how to say how we’re going to do it yet,” she said, “but I think that’s what people want.”
She’s also concerned with cleaning up the administration in the band office.
“I look forward to representing West Point First Nation,” she said. “I look forward to getting the office on the right track.”
As for being elected as chief?
“I’m surprised but I’m not surprised,” she said. “I really think I can represent the people of West Point First Nation.”
The next regularly scheduled band election is to be held in 2013.