CONTROVERSIAL FORMER CHIEF RON DERRICKSON WITHDRAWS NOMINATION
WESTBANK FIRST NATION - In a move that surprised a lot of band members, former Chief Ron Derrickson has withdrawn his nomination and endorsed another candidate for chief in Westbank council elections.
Derrickson is one of four band members running for chief and he used his allotted speaking time at the band’s all candidate meeting Thursday night to throw his support behind candidate Roxanne Lindley, just days after he sent band members a letter outlining his campaign.
“The people were in shock,” said Rose Caldwell, a band member who has been vocal in her support of Lindley and was at the meeting.
Lindley, Larry Derrickson Sr. and incumbent Chief Robert Louie are also vying for the position. Like Ron Derrickson, Louie has been chief for multiple terms while Lindley ran for chief’s chair in the the last band election.
Ron Derrickson, who is a successful businessman and real estate developer, told band members he realized he was a little too old to take on the chief’s position again.
“I decline my nomination. I won’t declare my support for chief but I hope she wins,” Derrickson told surprised band members in a video of the event seen by iNFOnews.ca.
Lindley said in a statement released today she was surprised and pleased.
“I was not anticipating this and see his actions as being very noble. He, along with all of our leaders have dedicated a lot of time and energy towards our people,” the statement said. "For Ron to have faith in me as a leader means that he was and is a good teacher.”
Lindley took the high road, praising the other candidates.
"I have had opportunity to work with each of the candidates running for chief,” she wrote. "I have learned from each of them, each has been a teacher. I took the time to hug each of these men, and look forward to their continued input into the well being of our community."
No accurate measure exists of the current support for any of the candidates, but Derrickson’s endorsement is sure to bolster the chances of Lindley against the incumbent Louie and Larry Derrickson.
Both Lindley and Derrickson have focused on Louie’s involvement with the failed private hospital project.
The band was forced to pay $8 million to recover land it had pledged as its share of what was supposed to be Canada’s first private hospital.
Louie has said before he takes responsibility for the loss and described it as “the cost of doing business”.
Westbank First Nation is one of Canada’s only self-governing native bands. About 550 of approximately 800 members are eligible to vote next Thursday, September 15.
Besides band members, another 10,000 people live in housing on band land and are represented by a resident’s council.
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