Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) has elected a new chief - the second female chief in the band's history.
Karen Bird, originally from Southend, won election over five other candidates to take over the top spot within the Cree nation. Bird received 1,466 votes, hundreds ahead of her nearest competition. Bird defeated candidates Simon Daniel Jobb, Roland Natewayes, Horace "Cha Choo" Morin, Weldon McCallum and Jason R.G. Linklater to become chief.
By the time all ballots were counted, Bird received 1,466 votes, giving her a distant win for chief. Second place in the vote went to Jobb, who received 784 votes, while McCallum earned 771 votes. Morin got 648 votes, putting him in fourth, while Natewayes received 451 votes. Linklater finished last, having received 202 votes.
In a Facebook video posted online after news broke of her win, Bird thanked both the voters, elders, supporters and Jesus for her victory, addressing the public in both English and Cree.
"Thank you for all the PBCN membership, all the people who prayed, all the people who gave financially, who gave encouragement. It was tough, a really long and tough ride," Bird said, also thanking her fellow candidates.
"It's tough, to put yourself there and be vulnerable for the people. I want to thank you for doing that."
Bird had run for chief twice in the past, finishing second in the vote in 2018 behind then-reelected Chief Peter Beatty.
Results in the election for chief varied dramatically from community to community - five of the six candidates finished with the most votes in at least one community. In Pelican Narrows, McCallum (formerly a PBCN councillor for the community) earned the most votes, with Bird in second and Morin in third. Bird won a wide majority in Deschambault Lake, but Jobb finished just ahead of Bird in Southend, getting 283 votes to Bird's 265. Both Bird and Jobb are from Southend.
Amisk Lake voted for Bird, while Morin finished second. That flipped in Sturgeon Landing, where Morin received 29 votes to Bird's 18, finishing first and second. Sandy Bay voters on the other hand overwhelmingly voted for Natewayes, who took 311 votes while no other candidate broke 100.
Chief Bird, along with newly elected members of both PBCN's council and elders council, will remain in office until the next election, currently slated for April 2024.
PBCN's 14-member council will see some change following the election.
Councillors within PBCN are elected from Amisk Lake, Deschambault Lake, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay, Southend, Sturgeon Landing and from PBCN members in Prince Albert.
In Denare Beach, incumbent councillor Marvin "Chuck" Morin won back his seat over three other candidates - Lionel Gardiner, Kevin Sewap and former councillor Clayton Sewap. In Pelican Narrows, a complicated election situation ended with five councillors being voted in - Josephine E. Michel, Sarah Swan, Ronald Michel, Thomas Linklater Jr. and Myrtle Ballantyne were elected to represent Pelican Narrows. Out of the five members elected, only one - Ballantyne - is an incumbent.
Sandy Bay elected Nora Bear and Harvey Nateweyes to council, with Natewayes earning his spot just barely - election officials said that a recount was done for the second Sandy Bay seat, with Natewayes winning by just two votes. Deschambault Lake will be represented once again by Walter Ballantyne and Peter R. Beatty, both of whom won reelection.
Richard Budd won election in Sturgeon Landing, while Kevin Morin and Nelson Morin were elected to represent Southend. Clarisse "La La" Lecoq was reelected to serve for PBCN's residents in Prince Albert.
On PBCN's elders council, Darlene Watson will represent Amisk Lake, while Myrtle Morin and Robert Ray were elected to elders council in Sandy Bay. Two elders council members were acclaimed for both Deschambault Lake and Pelican Narrows - Arthur Beatty and Frank Robillard in Deschambault Lake and Derek Custer and Robert McCallum in Pelican Narrows won their seats before election day as the only candidates to step forward in their communities.
Sturgeon Landing will be represented on elders council by Jenny Gamache, while Maurice Patrick Bear and Margaret Michel were elected for Prince Albert. Southend's two elders council seats were won by Florence Clarke and Dennis Cook.