K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) has elected its first female chief.
April Martel, 38, was chosen to lead the band on Nov. 6 from a field of seven candidates.
“That means a lot to not only me but all the women in our First Nation,” she said of being the first female chief for KFN. “It’s very good. A lot of women have felt the power.”
Martel replaces outgoing Chief Roy Fabian, who did not seek re-election.
She garnered 67 votes, while her nearest competitor Doreen Tambour collected 64 votes.
The other candidates were Ken Norn (51 votes), Amos Cardinal (24 votes), Lenny Fabian (13 votes), Jeffrey Norn (eight votes) and Andy Cardinal (two votes).
Martel thinks she was elected chief because she spoke of all the issues facing KFN, for instance education, housing, health and social services, and language and culture.
“There are so many things that have not been addressed, and it needs to be addressed,” she said. “That’s what I’m speaking of, and I think the people believed in me and knew that I should be the chief because I speak of those things, because I know how important it is.”
Martel previously ran for chief in 2015 but narrowly lost to Fabian. In that election, she received 81 votes, compared to 91 for Fabian.
Before being elected chief, which is a full-time position, she was a teacher at Aboriginal Head Start.
The new chief was sworn into office on Nov. 7, along with a new council, during a ceremony at band council chambers.
The band councillors, who were all acclaimed to office, are Doug Lamalice, Robert Lamalice, Patrick Martel, Peter Sabourin, Raymond Sonfrere and Henry Tambour.
The chief and councillors have been elected to three-year terms of office.