Darlene Cheechoo elected 1st woman chief of Waskaganish, Que.

The former head of the Cree government's investment wing was elected chief of Waskaganish, Que., on Tuesday with almost 80 per cent of the votes.

Housing, job creation and social issues among new chief's priorities in Cree community

The former head of the Quebec Cree government's investment wing was elected chief of Waskaganish Tuesday, garnering almost 80 per cent of the votes. 

It's the first time Waskaganish voters have chosen a woman as chief, although women have served as chief in other Cree communities including Chisasibi, Oujé-Bougoumou and Washaw Sibi.

Darlene Cheechoo was elected chief of Waskaganish, Que., on Tuesday. (Jamie Jacob/ Facebook)

Waskaganish is a community of about 2,300 on the James Bay Coast of Quebec, about an eight hours' drive north of Val d'Or. 

"I feel very honoured that the people came out in such a dramatic way to express their wish to have a female chief," Cheechoo said after her win was announced.

Cheechoo is a former chairperson of the Board of Compensation, the body set up to manage funds flowing from the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and she has also served as president of CreeCo, a group of Cree-owned companies.

As the newly-elected chief, she said her priorities include housing, job creation and social issues. 

She said she hopes to stimulate the economy by supporting small businesses and resource development.

"I'd like to consult the people on where they see future resource development and make sure that it falls in line with our values and our future planning, including our young people," Cheechoo said.

Cheechoo got 650 votes in Tuesday's election. Runner-up Charles J. Hester got 116 votes and Charles Esau got 53.
Greta Cheechoo, Ryan Erless, Stacy Bear, Melissa Whiskeychan and Redfern Blueboy were elected as band councillors for a four-year term.

Deputy Chief A. Thomas Hester still has two years remaining in his term.