The new chief and council for the Lower Nicola Indian Band officially kicked off its three-year term with an oath of office and swearing in ceremony on Oct. 23.

The seven councillors and chief vowed to act in the best interest of their community, not abuse drugs and alcohol, and to follow LNIB law in their oath in front of about 200 band members who attended the ceremony at the band school.

“It is a promise that each of them makes to us and to all of you to do certain things,” electoral officer Raymond Phillips told the crowd.

Phillips read out each paragraph of the oath, which the chief and council repeated back.

“We will not allow our business or personal affairs to influence our decision-making and we will always consider the best interest of the community when making a decision,” the council swore.

LNIB elder Doreen Sterling commended council members for offering their time and energy to work for the community.

“When we are looking at the chief and council, we’re looking at people who we’re expecting to not only listen to what the people are saying but to hear with the core of your being. Listen from the inside out to what the people are saying, to what they’re asking,” Sterling said. “Those decisions that you make are not only for the people who you see here today, which includes children. Those decisions impact the children of the children that are here: our future.”

She also gave them some advice in starting their three-year term.

“Be honest about what it is that you know and be honest about what you don’t know,” she said later in her speech.

The members signed two original documents with elder witnesses and guest witnesses Merritt Mayor Susan Roline, RCMP Staff Sgt. Sheila White, and aboriginal principal for school district 58 Shelley Oppenheim-Lacerte, who each gave a short speech.wessel_lnib_swearing011_WEB

“I know we’ve got many things that we can accomplish together that will benefit our entire valley,” Roline said.

The members of the 2010-13 council were also recognized by Chief Aaron Sam and presented with gifts.

“I think it’s important that we acknowledge our former leaders and the hard work they’ve done for this community,” Sam said.

Students at the LNIB school opened the ceremony with a drum song and the swearing-in closed with a chief and council honour song performed by a drum group led by Len Bearshirt.

The ceremony was immediately followed by a community dinner.