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Larry Underwood sworn in as chief of T’Sou-ke Nation

Traditional ceremony welcomes incoming chief, honours past leader
Members of District of Sooke and T’Sou-ke Nation councils celebrate the inauguration of Chief Larry Underwood. (Contributed)

A gathering of more than 70 people that included family, friends, staff, dignitaries, and members of the community looked on with admiration and respect as Larry Underwood was officially sworn in as chief of the T’Sou-ke Nation.

The ceremony on March 21 began with T’Sou-ke youth drummers and singers carrying in the Oath of Office, led by Underwood and councillors Rose Dumont, Bonnie Hill, and Debra Lazzar.

Cassidy Tremblay, a T’Sou-ke Nation youth, handed the Oath of Office to Elder Gerald Lazzar, who then presented it to Chief Underwood and council in a symbol of trust and guidance.

Underwood read the oath aloud and signed it before he was blessed, along with the document, by Elder Shirley Alphonse.

The official witnesses, Willow Dodge-Planes and Jannie Sutherland Hansen, spoke of the importance of creating a strong future for youth, honouring cultural practices, caring for families, and guiding T’Sou-ke Nation on a culturally sound, prosperous path forward.

“I will bring back activities that promote togetherness, creating opportunities for shared experiences and learning,” Underwood promised. “Youth will be exposed to invaluable teachings of our elders, fostering a sense of unity and respect for our shared history.”

Outgoing chief Gordon Planes was honoured with a ceremonial blanket and thanked him for his many years of service, guidance, and hard work in governing the nation.

The ceremony concluded with a dinner of clam chowder and sockeye salmon, prepared traditionally in the T’Sou-ke smokehouse by Nathan and Rob Davies.

“T’Sou-ke Nation would like to acknowledge and thank Bruce Underwood for speaking on behalf of the nation and administering the ceremony,” T’sou-ke Nation communications co-ordinator Natassia Davies said in a media release.

“The nation would also like to thank Shirley Alphonse, Willow Dodge-Planes and Jannie Sutherland Hansen, the T’Sou-ke youth drummers group, and Rob Davies and Nathan Davies for contributing their time and efforts to the ceremony.”

Davies included a final acknowledgement and much gratitude to the District of Sooke’s mayor and council, Elida Peers, and all the T’Sou-ke members and families that showed up to witness the inauguration.

“We raise our hands to all of you. HÍSW̱ḴE (Hych’ka, thank you).”

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