Yukon News

Morgan elected as LFN chief ending months-long election saga

Lori Garrison Wednesday June 7, 2017

Submitted photo/Paul A. Tubb

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George Morgan has been elected chief of the Liard First Nation.

George Morgan is the new chief of the Liard First Nation, ending one chapter in the long, fraught and often contentious leadership debate for this Kaska nation.

Morgan defeated incumbent Chief Daniel Morris by a margin of 203 votes to 102. Don Magun recieievd 80 votes, while Dorothy Hayes took six.

“It’s a relief,” said Morgan. “I’m glad that this is over.”

“The immediate plan is for chief and council to convene,” he said. “We have some financial and administrative details to sort out.”

The vote comes after a six-month delay amid allegations of financial mismanagement and questionable electoral and leadership practices by Morris. The First Nation has been under third-party management since 2014 by Vancouver-based Ganhada Management Group.

“This is a victory for our democracy. This was really about defending our democracy,” said Morgan. “We have to sit down as a community and look at our election law to make sure this never happens again.”

Morris could not be reached for comment by press time.

Morris was elected as chief in 2013. Morgan ran against Morris in that race, and lost by a slim margin.

Former chief Liard McMillan, whom Morris replaced, and whose decade-long run as chief was also marred by complaints about mismanagement and corruption, issued a statement supporting the new chief and council.

“I didn’t want to say too much with an election underway, but now that it is over I want to publicly express my congratulations to the new government and to express my hope that the nation can now begin to heal and move forward together,” McMillan said in his statement.

Joel Krahn/Yukon News

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Outgoing chief Daniel Morris was first elected in 2013.

Morris’s official term as chief expired Dec. 14, 2016, without an election being called. The election was originally scheduled for Dec. 15 but never took place. A group of LFN citizens took the First Nation to court over the delay.

That prompted Morris to hold a community meeting in early February to appoint an election committee. The meeting descended into a shouting match but the committee was successfully created.

The vote was rescheduled for April 10, but was delayed again after chief returning officer Lois Moorcroft, a former NDP MLA and cabinet minister, abruptly resigned amid claims of legal threats against her.

“She (Moorcroft) said somebody was saying something to her,” election co-chair Emma Donnessy told the News at the time. “She resigned because she thought it would be best for everyone if we did it in a fair and open transparent manner. Some of the people didn’t like the way things were run.”

Questions about the state of the First Nation’s finances have hung over Morris’s term as chief. Morgan couldn’t say why he thought Morris worked so hard to cling to his position even after his official term was over.

“I have no idea the machinations of his mind … there’s been no financial transparency for three and a half years — maybe that’s the reason,” he said. “We are currently suffering a financial crisis here and we have millions and millions of dollars that have not been reported on.”

This week’s results mean all of the First Nation’s elected officials are new. Fred Lutz won the race for deputy chief. Alfred Chief, Dawn McDonald, Kathy Magun and Travis Stewart were elected as Yukon councillors. Malcolm Groat and Harlan Schilling were elected as councillors in Lower Post, B.C.

Hayes, a candidate for chief, said there were attempts at electoral fraud during this week’s vote, including intimidation. She also said someone tried to make off with a ballot box in Watson Lake. Morgan said that didn’t happen, although rumours were circulating in the community.

Morgan said he felt there was “lateral violence” and social division within the community as a result of the election.

“It’s hard to get people to speak out about it, I will agree with that,” he said. “If your family doesn’t support a candidate and you do … there’s all kinds of lateral violence.”

“This (election was) all about fairness, transparency and leadership accountability,” Morgan said.

With files from Pierre Chauvin

Contact Lori Garrison at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

9 Comments

Liard Support wrote:
1:16am Thursday June 15, 2017

Stay away from the KASKA special consultants/ advisors ( bottom feeders, carpet baggers, etc, ) who say that you are apart of KASKA BS< just lead Liard, your own peeps.., and you will do fine… just be Liard, not other communities, you will have enough on your plate to deal with… Take a stand and be Liard FN, do not listen to the us against gov bs, build Liard FN, back to where who they are… Pride/ respectful/ great people that they are… you asked for this, make it so.. focus on the people and not consultant government funds…  you got this….

Snowflake wrote:
1:14pm Wednesday June 14, 2017

As of Monday June 12, 2017 Kathy Magun DID NOT GET A SEAT ON LFN COUNCIL. Shirley Lutz was voted in. Last week Kathy Magun demand the investigation to be stopped, this week she is not saying too much. I am happy the investigation will carry on.

here we go again wrote:
3:21pm Tuesday June 13, 2017

I hope this is not going to be just another leadership with its own agenda. What needs to happen is bringing our people together, work together, make our community healthy again, don’t spread your hate, your agenda, into the community.  You already have the Chief and Alfred spreading their hate and agenda through out the community, I don’t want to hear about it, I want to hear how the community is going to be healthy again.  How are you going to address the social issues, people don’t need anymore anger or hate flowing through the community.  People are all ready divided, bring them together, find a way to help our youth, our elders our community members.  There has been so many deaths, help people to heal. I’m already disappointed, first thing I hear from our Chief and his side kick is nothing about how we are going to work to get things back on track in our Community, how we are going to get out from third party….please start showing leadership not talking negative. Alfred your a leader now get off social media its only creating more pain and more division amongst us.

Snowflake wrote:
4:40pm Monday June 12, 2017

@LFN member come and help us out, start by getting to know your people. Then fix this mess for us. Stop hiding in another nation’s community.

LFN member wrote:
2:27pm Sunday June 11, 2017

This community has a very long and tough battle ahead in healing itself. I was in Watson a week ago and I could feel the division and hatred within the LFN community. We can only hope for a positive future.

Member Of Liard First Nation wrote:
6:22pm Friday June 9, 2017

We are now working ON LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT for LIARD FIRST NATION as per Alfred Chief Sr. He confirmed this on social media and visiting LFN members door to door today Friday June 9th 2017.

Boogereater wrote:
6:19pm Friday June 9, 2017

Gonna be a tough road ahead swimming against the current on this one. Hopefully they stick to their guns

Alan wrote:
6:41pm Wednesday June 7, 2017

Best wishes George…

I know George wrote:
2:56pm Wednesday June 7, 2017

He’s a decent guy who will do a great job. He isn’t in this for the self-interest. He legitimately wants to improve things. LFN made the best choice.

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