Toni Heron declared she is “ready to work for our nation” as she was chosen to become the new chief of the Salt River First Nation this week.
Heron received 68 votes to win a four-way contest for the position according to results released on the First Nation’s Facebook page on Tuesday.
Patricia Schaefer received 47 votes, April McAllister 38 and Ronald Schaefer 21.
Heron replaces outgoing chief David Poitras, who opted to step down from the role. Six councillors were acclaimed: Alexander D Beaulieu, Kendra Bourke, Freda Emile, Bradley Laviolette, Levi MacDonald, and Warren Sikyea.
The incoming chief expressed mild surprise at the result, saying she had resolved to “give it one more try” after being involved with the First Nation’s council more than a decade ago.
She said she would work to advance programs that support seniors, trades, education, and on-the-land activities for youth.
Heron expressed concern about the system currently used to run the First Nation’s election, suggesting members outside the community have too short a time frame in which to return mail-in ballots or do not receive them in the first place.
For now, though, she said: “I’m anxious to work with the council. I just want to do a good job. I want to work for the people.”
Caitrin Pilkington contributed reporting.