Tsawwassen First Nation members head back to the polls next week.
Bryce Williams and Kim Baird will once again square off in the race for chief in next Wednesday's election, which was called after last September's general election results were overturned. That election saw Williams unseat Baird, the longtime incumbent.
Twelve members of the TFN legislature are also running again, facing challenges from nine others.
Williams, a 23-year-old carver, defeated Baird 78-69.
He was first elected to the TFN's government in 2009, having served on the executive council, which is reserved for the top vote getters in an election. Baird, who was acclaimed in 2009, had been chief since 1999.
On the TFN's website, Williams said the First Nation is "in critical times right now" but he's confident in being able to move it forward to become a stronger, sovereign, self-sustainable community.
"I am also confident that we as a community, youth, elders and all members, can revive and rebuild our language and culture together. The youth are our next generation of leaders to come and we need to focus on them so we can assist and encourage them to learn and embrace their traditions along with getting a strong education."
Williams said he wants to have open communication between chief and council and the rest of the TFN membership, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to participate with and in government
He also said his government is exploring and debating options to have "a realistic approach" to setting up the membership's treaty dividends along with "other important matters."
The TFN's Judicial Council last fall upheld two appeals regarding the result of September's election.
The council heard arguments in regard to the timing of election notices that claimed a wrong date on one of the notices impacted the outcome.
Baird didn't personally launch an appeal but her brother, Mike Baird, was one of the two appellants.
Even before the judicial council issued it's ruling, Kim Baird confirmed she would seek re-election.
"I gave it a lot of thought and based on requests from the community, and the fact that I made that original commitment to this term, I've decided to run again if the appeals were upheld," she said at the time.
Saying she's glad the TFN has clear process to hear appeals, Baird noted it's important "there won't be a cloud hanging over the results" in another vote.
The defeat of Baird, who negotiated B.C.'s first urban treaty, was seen as a surprise as the TFN embarks on major development plans.
Behind the scenes, the TFN's executive council last month let go CAO Doug Raines, who was replaced in the interim by Tony Jacobs, a former chief who's currently an elected member of the legislature.
A reason hasn't been given nor any statement issued on the move, but a TFN member who did not want to be named confirmed to the Optimist there is concern about the firing and what's taking place.
It's not clear what's going on behind the scenes at the TFN, which is a small, tight-knit community, but whatever battles may be happening are certainly occurring at a critical juncture.
Construction has already begun on the first of many housing subdivisions, while site preparation is well underway for a pair of huge shopping malls, which will change the face of South Delta.
The TFN is working with Port Metro Vancouver on potential opportunities to develop industrial land, while the First Nation is also being eyed as a potential home for a waste-to-energy garbage incinerator as well as a foreign trade zone.
On another front, there's also speculation regarding a potential destination casino ending up at the TFN, even though the First Nation has stated it's not looking to build one as part of its commercial component.
Earlier this year, fuel was added to the fire when president and CEO Michael Graydon said the B.C. Lottery Corporation would forge ahead with plans for a casino south of the Fraser River, possibly in Tsawwassen, following Surrey council's rejection of a proposed casino development.
If everything comes together, the TFN, in a few short years, will be transformed from a sparsely populated native reserve to one of the most powerful communities in the Lower Mainland, especially from an economic standpoint.
All this is taking place while the TFN still hasn't worked out where it will find the water and sewer infrastructure to service all that growth.
The TFN has 260 members eligible to vote in next week's election out of a population of 439. A total of 148 members voted in last September's election for a turnout rate of 57 per cent.
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