NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
The Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation held band council elections on Sept. 5.
Just over 94 per cent of eligible voters in the community came out to vote. Most recent numbers show the number of eligible voters in Sheshatshiu at 1,026 and 967 ballots were cast in the election.
Thirty-seven candidates ran for six council seats, three for men and three for women. Mary Jane Nui, Karen Penunsi, Laureen Ashini-Rich, Daniel Pone-Pinette and Terry Andrew won back their seats and newcomer Penute Andrew secured the sixth spot.
Incumbent chief Eugene Hart was voted in over former chief Andrew Penashue by a large margin. Hart got 661 votes while Penashue garnered 301 votes.
Hart told The Labradorian he feels humbled by the amount of support from the community.
“Over the last three years council and I have put in a lot of hours working on behalf of the community as a whole and for the individual members,” he said. “The message I take from the support is that chief and council has been doing some great work and they want to see us continue doing our best for them.”
He said the high level of engagement this election shows people want to be involved with council and help address the needs of the community. He said it also shows people have seen the work they did in the past three years.
“We had a great amount of dialogue and I believe the people in the community felt that their voices were being heard, so they in turn got out and expressed their support for the people they wanted to see get in,” he said.
Hart said the priorities for this term, as they were last term, are making advances in the child welfare system with a focus on keeping children in the community, housing, infrastructure, better access for service delivery and opportunities especially in the area of health care and continuing to support education as a high priority for youth.
He said because almost everyone in Sheshatshiu has access to the numbers of chief and council, they hear the community’s priorities almost every day.
“We get requests for housing, childcare issues, inability to access certain services, and the need for something more in the community,” he said. “We listen and when we get in meetings with officials we don’t just advocate for the people, we tell their stories because they need to be heard.”
Hart thanked everyone who put their name forward and congratulated the councillors on their achievements.