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Punnichy elects Indigenous woman in by-election for mayor


Residents of the Village of Punnichy celebrated as a First Nations woman was sworn in as mayor.

“I’m very grateful and thankful for all of the support I got so far with the community and some of the members,” newly elected mayor Deana Lil-tent expressed.

The small town, located 127 kilometres north of Regina in east central Saskatchewan, has a recorded population of 212 residents.

Lil-tent’s vote in council comes after a by-election was called due to former mayor, Victor Senft, resignation in November of 2023.

Although the village’s administration would not comment on the matter, a public meeting was held immediately after Lil-tent’s victory to address residents concerns about ongoing issues in the community.

"The friction that's in this town is bad and it's just not right, small communities should work together right,” said resident Jim Chisholm.

"That's what the town needs, is somebody that will take the concerns of people, you may not get change, but at least they will listen to us."

Issues such as drug use, lack of recreation opportunities for youth and seniors in the community, along with transparency between council and the community were raised.

“Even though we do have the RCMP in the town, there’s still crime due to drugs and alcohol,” resident Harley Morin said.

“That’s why us as a community, and members who are here today, are trying to have some authority to put our own beliefs from our homes on the reserve and structure it in an urban area setting.”

Lil-tent assuming the role of mayor has inspired Morin to run in the next municipal election.

"[Punnichy] was ran by non-First Nations up until this,” Morin said.

“We have another election here in September or October I believe, and we're going to try and put more of us like myself up. I'm going to try and run for council."

According to Statistics Canada, Punnichy’s population is 87 per cent Indigenous. Lil-tent said she is excited to represent the people in her community.

"It seems like there’s not enough for people to do in town and that’s one of my targets is I would like to see things get going for youth and the older people,” she said.

“I think I’ll have a lot of support. I know I don’t have a lot of people standing behind me on my journey with this, but I’m looking forward to it. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m always up to it.”

Lil-tent credited her husband – saying she would not have been able to run for office if it weren’t for his support.

“I want to give my thanks to my supporters and everyone that was standing behind me, especially my husband Harold, he’s the one that pushed me to keep going. He said it’s a two way street, that it’s now or never and that it’s my turn to step up to the plate,” she told CTV News.

“For me it's all about learning and experiencing, and passing down what I learned and maybe someone else can come and do what I did after.”

Despite Lil-tent being elected at this time of the year, she is required to run in the upcoming round of municipal elections this fall. Top Stories

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