Snuneymuxw First Nation council will see a fresh face and perspective when Erralyn Thomas assumes the role of councillor in February.
Thomas, 27, who graduated with a law degree from the University of British Columbia last year, is the B.C. Assembly of First Nation’s female youth representative and was also one of the candidates receiving the highest number of votes in the recent Snuneymuxw council election, tied with Michael Wyse with 241.
Having moved away from the community to live with her grandparents until she graduated, she admits to feeling anxiety in terms of what other Snuneymuxw thought of her but the final results put her at ease.
“It is a good feeling that the community sees me as … still a part of the Snuneymuxw and an active member,” she said.
In terms of her plans for council, Thomas said she wants to bring back the value of public service and the principles that guide and inform it.
“We are still developing our identity in terms of jurisdiction and law-making authority and with that comes redefining what the purpose of our roles [are] in sitting at the table. So the value I bring to the table is to remind people sitting around the table that the purpose of sitting there is to improve the quality of life of our people,” she said, adding that her focus will be community first and ensuring education.
Thomas said her motivation to run came a few years back and said she would have tried to become a Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly had it not worked out.
“I’ve always had this interest to come home and contribute where I think my capacity lies. I want to be on the front line. I want to be where all the big decisions are made,” she said.
Elections for Snuneymuxw council are staggered, with half the council voted in every two years. James Seward, Paul Wyse-Seward, William Yoachim and Wyse were incumbents re-elected.
John Wesley was elected chief at the Dec. 7 election.
– with files from Tamara Cunningham