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Karen Bell elected chief of Garden River First Nation

Anishinabek Police Service sergeant and former band councillor defeats incumbent Andy Rickard by nearly 200 votes to lead new-look band council
Garden River First Nation Chief Karen Bell.

Anishinabek Police Service Sgt. Karen Bell has been declared the new chief of Garden River First Nation after voters cast their ballots for chief and council Tuesday.

A total of 475 votes were cast for the former council member, who defeated three other candidates in the running for chief of the community. Bell's closest challenger, incumbent Andy Rickard, had 278 votes. The former chief had previously served two terms as leader.  

Bell will be holding listening sessions throughout Garden River First Nation in the coming months in order to "encourage members to share new ideas, express concerns, and play an active role in community-building," according to a release issued Wednesday. 

"I am committed to being accountable to all members, whether they reside within our community or elsewhere," said Bell in the release. "The chief's role demands a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility, and I pledge to honour this throughout my four-year term.

"Trustworthiness, accountability, and transparency will remain at the forefront of my tenure. Every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and I promise to uphold this commitment."

Kari Barry, Darwin Belleau, Lee Ann Gamble, Kristy Dawn Jones, Travis N. Jones, Chester Langille, Luanne Povey and Candace Sim were all elected to band council following the Sept. 19 elections.

Langille and Belleau were the only two members of the previous council to keep their seats. 

Garden River First Nation has now moved to four-year terms, a first for the community. The terms for chief and council were previously two years in duration. 

The First Nation has also trimmed its band council down from a dozen councillors to eight. 

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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