Chiniki First Nation has elected to keep its council, except for one new addition to fill a vacant seat.
On Friday (Dec. 8), Aaron Young was re-electeed as chief with 384 votes, beating Bruce Labelle with 214 votes and Trevis Chiniquay with 53.
The chief is joined by re-elected Couns. Boyd Wesley, who garnered 331 votes, Verna Powderface with 288 votes and Charles Mark with 184 votes. Of about 1,000 eligible nation members, approximately 60 per cent voted.
Darius Chiniquay, in his first-ever run for election, received 293 votes to become the newest member of Stoney Tribal Council, comprised of Goodstoney and Bearspaw First Nations chiefs and council.
“The people have spoken and we appreciate that and we’ll honour that,” said Young. “Having Darius, who is a young man as part of our team certainly generates a positive outlook for the future and his input will be valuable. We welcome him.”
Chiniquay takes the seat of former Coun. Jordie Mark, who served three consecutive terms on council and announced in November that he would not be seeking re-election if nominated.
The chief thanked Mark for his service and said he looks forward to continuing the momentum gained by the former council on projects within the nation, like creating much-needed housing.
“The main focus for sure is development, and when I say development, we need to make sure that we invest in our people as much as we can by means of having proper facilities, proper access to housing and so forth,” said Young.
“We are in talks with both governments and hopefully we can build more homes soon so that each family, especially the new ones, have a home base they can start from.”
Last year, Chiniki First Nation applied to the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative for funding to help expedite the delivery of affordable housing units. In Mînî Thnî, 40 new affordable homes were added.
The band’s CEO, Brian Evans, said 15 more are being built through phase three of the program this year, but band members in search of housing are still facing a waitlist of around 200 people. Similar issues persist with Goodstoney and Bearspaw Nation members living in Mînî Thnî, Eden Valley and Big Horn.
A feasibility study is underway for lands surrounding the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino to look at building housing and transportation infrastructure that would support not only Nation members, but other residents of the Bow Valley and visitors, too.
“Those feasibility studies pertain to how we can build upon that land, so that will be determined at a later date,” said Young. “It’s at the study stage but these are projects in the works right now.”
A recently revised master plan for the casino adds possibilities for more retail, food and beverage developments, as well as hotels, staff and senior housing, a convention centre, theatre, cultural centre and multi-use arena.
“We want to focus on making developments family-oriented and for the community especially, so they can prosper and we can make these resources available to each and everyone,” said Young.
“Our main focus is investing in our future and that’s our people for sure.”
A date for the customary inauguration ceremony of chief and council has not been set yet but will take place in the new year.
By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Dec 14, 2023 at 17:35