Les Doiron of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation has been named the next vice-president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, after being voted into the position today by NTC society members.
The tribal council held an extraordinary general meeting to fill the position, which was vacated with the resignation of former vice-president Mariah Charleson in November. Doiron was the only Nuu-chah-nulth member to step forward for the role, but a vote from society members was still required, which saw the new VP earn 67.8 per cent of votes cast by 59 society members.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity. I can feel the ancestors today,” said Doiron after the vote. “All of you that have reached out to me in one way shape or form or another have been amazing. I’m proud to be Indian today, I’m proud to be Nuu-chah-nulth, and I really can’t wait to get to work.”
Among his political experience is a four-year term as elected president of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation from 2015-2019. Doiron also formerly served as deputy chair for the First Nations Health Council and CEO of the First Nations Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that helped to bring n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa, a totem pole designed by Hesquiaht carver Tim Paul, to Port Alberni’s Victoria Quay in 2021.
As the vice-president, Doiron will be responsible for issues internal to the NTC, such First Nations communities, committees and the NTC board.
He was met with a round of congratulations from the Nuu-chah-nulth representatives participating in the online meeting, but leaders also reminded Doiron of pressing issues that will soon need his attention.
Ehattesaht/Chinehkint Councillor Ernie Smith spoke of the state of emergency that was recently declared by the First Nation due the toll of the opioid crisis on its youth.
“We’ve lost six youth in such a short period of time,” said Smith. “We’re in talks with government to help us in this area. As we all know, it comes from residential schools and colonialism and the marginalization of our people. Our people are hurting really bad.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic B.C.’s rate of fatal overdoses from illicit drug use has continued to an accelerated degree of six deaths per day.
“We look for solutions and action,” added Nuchatlaht Councillor Archie Little. “We’ve done enough talking. We’ve lost enough youth.”
After congratulating Doiron, leaders also pointed to the shortage of eligible candidates who stepped forward to be considered for the vice-president position.
“I would like for a panel or a group to head to the community and the downtown community and find out why no one is putting their name forward,” said Ditidaht Councillor Kelly Sport. “We seem to be getting out of touch with common folk, the people who are not elected to positions in their respected communities.”
“Let’s just take this as a learning lesson where just one person puts their name forward,” added Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts. “Over the past 10, 12 years we’ve had several acclamations into the role. I think we need to take a look at what is happening there and why and what needs to be improved.”
Doiron will serve the remainder of the current term as vice-president, until another election is held at the NTC Annual General Meeting in September 2025.