Roxanne Lindley has defeated incumbent Robert Louie to become the first woman chief of the Westbank First Nation.
Lindley, who was once the cultural ambassador of the Syilx nation, received 175 of the 390 votes cast, which was 34 more than Louie and amounted to a 64 per cent voter turnout last night.
Louie had been chief since 2002, and had served a previous stint as leader of the WFN from 1986 to 1996.
Joining Lindley on the newly elected band council will be Chris Derickson, Brian Eli, Fernanda Alexander and Thomas Konek.
Lindley is the daughter of John Norman Lindley, who was elected the first chief of the Westbank Indian Band in 1963.
She started a foundation aimed at helping others in his name, and she said that her father’s first Council existed of women, “known to be the strength, the backbone of the community and together they started their dream of creating a community with a viable future.”
“A strong cultural identity was critical within the family core, he recognized this and both he and our mother, Elizabeth were instrumental in creating a solid foundation within the family,” said Lindley.
“Our people are matriarchal, he respected the role of his wife, he knew how critical it was for the survival of our people to continue in these ways, he knew how critical and vital our women are and how necessary the strength of the women and families were necessary for what was to come.”
Roxanne has worked diligently in many different departments within Westbank First Nation. Education, taxation, intergovernmental affairs and manager of archaeology and culture – her experiences always brought Roxanne back to the Land and the People. Archaeology and the handling of artifacts and other Syilx cultural items is what Roxanne continues to involve herself in.
Lindley and her spouse Wayne have three children and six grandchildren — her children and descendants are the reason she is so passionate about the future.
Although Lindley is the first woman leader of the WFN, aboriginal woman are as well represented in First Nation politics as women in general are in Canadian municipal politics. Nationally, about a fifth of First Nations are helmed by women, roughly the same as the percentage of cities led by female mayors.
The new council will take the oath of office at a ceremony planned for Tuesday, Sept. 20, with each council member to serve a three-year term.