Sam Bosum is the new chief of Ouje-Bougoumou. He was elected on April 30 with 58 per cent of the vote, or 140 of 241 valid ballots.
Louise Wapachee, the incumbent chief, gathered 71 votes, or 29 per cent. In third place was Joseph Shecapio-Blacksmith, who was one of Wapachee’s most vocal critics during her short term as chief. He got 31 votes, or 13 per cent.
Bosum, in his mid-50s, is the eldest of O.J.’s first three chiefs since the community was created in 1992. He was elected to a four-year term.
Bosum was deputy chief before the election and owns Native Explorations Services, a line-cutting and mine-staking business based in Ouje-Bougoumou. He has been involved in this field for over 30 years.
Wapachee was elected only last July, but the poll was immediately swamped by controversy. Critics said Wapachee shouldn’t have run for chief while holding the job of band treasurer, which they said is prohibited by a community bylaw.
The Cree-Naskapi Commission stepped in with an investigation that cleared Wapachee of any wrongdoing, but the controversy spilled over to other issues, dividing the community. Lastfall, community members voted to hold another election for chief and council.
Wapachee’s supporters said her problems really started when she announced plans to change how the band was administered. She also walked into a bit of controversy when she tried to reduce “recognition awards” of thousands of dollars given to the previous chief and council.
Some residents apparently didn’t like having a woman chief, especially one who was as youthful as Wapachee.
Also elected was a new council: Kenny Mianscum, Suzanne Mark Mianscum, Billy Capissisit, Albert Mianscum, Margo Mianscum and Rachel Bush.
Exceptfor Kenny Mianscum, they are all newtimers and there is a good mix of elders and youth, women and men. “I interpret this as a unity council,” one observer commented.