Hesquiaht woman voted in as NTC vice-president in by-election

Denise Titian, February 24, 2020

Mariah Charleson has been chosen as the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president at a special meeting. Election of 32-year-old marks the first time the NTC’s two top political positions are held by women. (Denise Titian photo)

Port Alberni, BC — 

Mariah Charleson, 32, has been elected as the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president at a special meeting. The by-election came following the resignation of former vice-president Andy Callicum, triggering the scheduling of an extraordinary NTC meeting to conduct the by-election.

Two candidates came forward to run for the position: Charleson along with Tseshaht’s David Watts Sr.

The polling station was open for 90 minutes on the morning of Feb. 24 and 82 votes were cast from NTC society members. Charleson garnered 69 votes. She will serve the remainder of the term until the next election to be held at the NTC Annual General Meeting in September 2021.

According to the NTC, the vice-president is responsible for issues amongst the member nations, which are internal to the NTC. Working with First Nation communities, NTC board and committees is an example of some of the work that the NTC vice-president does.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is a not-for-profit society that provides a wide variety of services and supports to fourteen Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations with over 10,000 members. It serves its members through program and service delivery and political advocacy.

NTC President Judith Sayers congratulated Charleson saying that it is the first time that women filled the seats of both president and vice-president of NTC.

Each nation took turns congratulating Charleson saying they look forward to seeing her in their communities. Some said they appreciated her enthusiasm and thanked her for taking the time to meet with their leaders.

Charleson told Ha-Shilth-Sa that she is excited for the opportunity work for and with Nuu-chah-nulth nations.

“We are in a massive shift right now with the way government is operating and I see this as a huge opportunity for our nations,” she said, adding that she hopes to be part of an effort to build strong, meaningful relationships with the communities. “The biggest thing is really getting leadership excited about being part of the society again.”  

“I am looking forward to getting into the communities, feet on the ground, and listen - I heard them openly invite me and so I know it’s needed,” said Charleson, stressing she is ready and willing to “work her butt off”.

“I have the confidence; I able to speak for the people but I can also offer an ear to listen,” said Charleson.