Optimism, gratitude, family and tradition came together last week when the Stz’uminus First Nation welcomed its newly-elected chief and council with a traditional Blanketing Ceremony.
Standing on a banner created by schoolchildren, facing a room full of family and friends, the chief and council were blanketed and signed their Oath of Office in this solemn ceremony, held May 8 at Stz’uminus Community School.
“This blanket represents all the grandmothers, mothers, aunties and sisters, all the ladies of their families here and our ancestors, embracing the ones we put forward,” explained Ray Harris, who led the Blanketing Ceremony.
In the April 3 election, John Elliott was re-elected chief for a third term. He is joined on council by Kevin Frenchy, Roxanne Harris, Tim Harris, Anne Jack, Terry Sampson, Harvey Seymour, Herb Seymour, Shawna Seymour and Peter Seymour.
“It’s an honour for me; I don’t take this job lightly,” said Elliott. “We have a strong position in our community to protect our people, and as a leader, that’s what I’ll do.”
For the ceremony, the chief and councillors were surrounded by family and friends and by many partners the Stz’uminus have been working with for economic development, including many representatives from the Town of Ladysmith.
Elliott highlighted that spirit of relationship building.
“We want to build our territory of Stz’uminus through building partnerships and relationships with our neighbours,” he told the crowd.
Both Ray Harris and Willie Seymour spoke of the importance of an event like this — and the importance of being surrounded by so many family and friends.
“This is our ancestral way, all of us as one, supporting everyone,” said Seymour. “Thank you for being here. To blanket someone is one of the greatest honours we have. You’re here to witness something very sacred.”
Seymour also thanked the chief and council for accepting the great responsibility they have accepted.
“Sometimes, it’s a very challenging job to have to be in politics,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind you will work to the best of your abilities. Collectively, I know you have the knowledge and the power to move our community forward.”