Nuxalk Nation

Chief & Council Governance

Prior to colonization, Indigenous peoples governed themselves according to structures and processes unique to their respective cultures. The Chief and Council system of governance was imposed on First Nations in 1876 through the Indian Act; this was done to control and streamline the governance of local Indigenous populations.

European style elections were first introduced into the Act on June 22, 1869, and the intention of the Canadian government was to replace the traditional Indigenous systems with one that closely mirrored their own. Under the Indian Act individuals are elected by the community but are accountable to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Nuxalk Nation elected Chief and Council system does not reflect the ancestral governance system that existed in Nuxalkulmc for thousands of years before contact. For more information on the revival and implementation of ancestral governance in Nuxalk territory, please click here.

On June 28, 2019, the elected Chief and Council signed a Declaration of Understanding with Nuxalk Stataltmc (ancestral leadership) that outlines the path that the leadership intends to take moving forward and lays a foundation for future decision-making processes. This was a historic step in furthering ancestral governance in Nuxalk territory.

The elected Chief and Council of the Nuxalk Nation operates under the Indian Act, receiving the bulk of its funding for its members from Indigenous Services Canada, and holds elections every two years. The current elected Chief and Council was elected on May 26, 2021. The next election is slated for 2023.
Rhonda Morton
Primary Portfolio: Administration and Finance
Secondary Portfolio: for Transition House & Elders
James Mack
Primary Portfolio: Mining, Lands, and Forestry
Secondary Portfolio: for Education
Iris Siwallace
Primary Portfolio: Emergency Management & Communications
Secondary Portfolio: for Justice & Courts/Child Welfare
Kirsten Tallio
Primary Portfolio: Culture Youth & Recreation
Secondary Portfolio: Economic Independence
Spuxta Nelson
Primary Portfolio: Transition House & Elders
Secondary Portfolio: Culture, Youth & Recreation
Terry Webber
Primary Portfolio: Education
Secondary Portfolio: Administration & Finance
Crystal Tallio
Primary Portfolio: Economic Independence
Secondary Portfolio: Mining, Lands & Forestry
Marshall Hans Jr.
Primary Portfolio: Clean Energy/Climate Change
Secondary Portfolio: Public Works/Housing
Blair Mack
Primary Portfolio: Fisheries & Ocean
Secondary Portfolio: Clean Energy/Climate Change
Wilma Parr
Primary Portfolio: Public Works/Housing
Secondary Portfolio: Health & Wellness Department
Jeromy Andy
Primary Portfolio: Health & Wellness Department
Secondary Portfolio: Fisheries & Oceans
Melinda Mack
Primary Portfolio: Justice & Courts/Child Welfare
Secondary Portfolio: Emergency Management
& Communications

Potlatch Governance

In the Nuxalk Nation the social, religious, political, and economic aspects of life are interwoven, they are not considered as distinct subjects. Each Nuxalk's birthright is contained in a structure, which dictates their position under each of these subjects. This structure is unique to the Nuxalk Nation and is considered law. The foundation for the laws comes from the Smayustas. The Smayustas are the origin stories of the Nuxalk Nation. These stories are the direct link to the Creator, and in turn it is their duty as a citizen to uphold the laws.

These laws and social positions are officially recognized and carried out in the Potlatch system. The Potlatch system is where important legal, political and economic decisions are made. It is also a special time for religious ceremonies. During the Potlatch the whole community comes together to witness these events. It is their presence that validates the decisions should discrepancies arise in the future. At the Potlatch, the Smayustas are passed on through oral traditions and customs, including; story telling, songs and dances. The Smayustas also contain information about special regalia and name giving ceremonies.

The Nuxalkmc and House of Smayusta Chiefs are still holding potlatches the Nuxalk way. Potlatch is the name given to our traditional system of government and ceremonies. Within our Potlatch government, no Hereditary Chief has given his or her territory or land to any foreign (Canada or British Columbia) government.

We believe that the Creator has given us our land and that we are the care takers of it. Foreign governments have sold ancestral Nuxalkmc land without the consent of the Hereditary Chiefs. Much of our land has been illegally sold to logging and mining industries, to fishing and hunting industries and to private developers.
Smaw Ti Slq'ilh
One Heart, One mind
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