Cowichan Tribes’ new Chief and Council have been elected, and the new name at the top is a familiar one.
Lydia Hwitsum is back as Tribes’ Chief, after having held the position from 1998 to 2001, and again from 2007 to 2011.
A lawyer by trade, Hwitsum earned her law degree from the University of Victoria in Law and Public Administration.
She has stayed involved in politics after her last term ended, having been the chair of the board of directors for the First Nations Health Authority for six years, and representing BC First Nations in BC Treaty Negotiations and as a part of the UNDRIP Task Group for the BC First Nations Fisheries Council.
She was also the Green Party candidate for the Member of Parliament seat in the riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford for the 2019 election – where she garnered the most votes for a Green Party candidate in the riding’s history.
The official results released by Cowichan Tribes early Sunday morning. Hwitsum earned 25.2% of the vote for Chief, with 241 ballots in her favour. She nearly doubled the count for runner-up and recent Acting-Chief Cindy Daniels who secured 125 votes, and bested incumbent Chief William “Chip” Seymour who finished third, with 113 votes. Seymour had held the office of Chief since 2013.
The pool of 74 candidates for council was whittled down to 12 seats held by 10 members from last term, with only two losing their spots.
Francine Alphonse, Stephanie Atleo, Albie Joe Charlie, Jen Charlie, Cindy Daniels, Howie George, Stuart Pagaduan, Calvin Swustus Sr., Calvin Swustus Jr., and Dora Wilson are back while the only newcomer to the council table not yet mentioned is Darin George, who is also a returner, having been on council from 2009-2013 and 2015-2019. The final council seat is held by Hwitsum.
Only Craig George and North Cowichan Councilor Debra Toporowski didn’t retain their seats. Toporowski missed re-election by 1 vote to each Wilson and Swustus Sr. who hold the 11th and 12th spots on council.
FINAL RESULTS FROM COWICHAN TRIBES ELECTION: