Carvill returns as grand chief

A familiar face will steer the Council of Yukon First Nations as it wades into unfamiliar territory. Yukon chiefs and delegates at the CYFN general…

A familiar face will steer the Council of Yukon First Nations as it wades into unfamiliar territory.

Yukon chiefs and delegates at the CYFN general assembly re-elected grand chief Andy Carvill for a second three-year term on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a lot a work ahead of us,” said Carvill, who won a decisive victory over Victoria Fred.

The First Nation organization, originally established to help negotiate self-government agreements, is in limbo.

Now that the agreements are signed, CYFN is essentially without a mandate.

This means its continued existence, as is, is questionable.

So Carvill will lead CYFN as it begins a massive restructuring Thursday during the general assembly at Helen’s Fish Camp near Lake Laberge.

Restructuring is the next big step for CYFN, said Carvill.

The general assembly will spend most of Thursday debating how CYFN will change its role and mandate.

“CYFN has got to move from a society to a central-governance structure” said Carvill.

“We need to look at becoming a stronger voice across the North.”

Delegates moved Tuesday’s vote from Wednesday, to accommodate the funeral of an elder.

The election went to a second ballot, where Carvill defeated Fred, 39 votes to 21.

The grand chief just missed a first-ballot win with his 33 votes.

Thirty-six votes are required to win.

Fred received 19 on the first ballot.

Political newcomer Brenda Jackson, a long-time CYFN employee, was left off the second ballot after she garnered eight votes to take third place the first time around.

A loss doesn’t mean Fred, a Whitehorse-based lawyer, is done with CYFN.

“We’re growing and evolving in a good way,” she said.

“It’s time to advance our agenda, time our interests are protected.”

Before the election, Carvill and Fred spoke at a coffee shop in Whitehorse where she mentioned her willingness to work more closely with CYFN if not elected.

“There will be ways we can work together and there may be positions in CYFN if she wishes to come work with us,” said Carvill.

Fred could help bring women’s issues to the forefront, he added.

Jackson has worked at CYFN for 10 years in numerous positions, from justice to human resources.

“I’m still around; I’ll still be working for our people,” she said after her first-ballot loss.

Health issues will be a top priority under Carvill.

“I want to sit down and talk about a treatment centre; I want to talk to other governments about a healing centre,” he said.

“We need something on the land that’s run by our people for our people, and others too.”

CYFN has an excellent health department and can tap into expertise from Yukon First Nations, said Carvill.

 “We have a good idea of where we want to go, it’s just a matter of getting support from the chiefs,” he said.

“Once we start bringing down programs tied into the agreements, we need healthy people to carry forward.”

Carvill stood beside his wife and two daughters under the large white assembly tent as he gave his acceptance speech.

He thanked his family for their sacrifices that helped him and helped the people.

For weeks before the nomination deadline, Carvill wasn’t sure he would declare his candidacy.

“But elders talked to me, youth talked to me and I’m humbled by the confidence people have in me to represent them for the next three years,” he said.

“I feel I have a strong mandate to move ahead. The people have spoken.”

Carvill expects to get the chiefs together within a couple weeks for a closed-door meeting.

“Let’s roll up our sleeves and get moving on our agenda,” said Carvill.

Staff changes are being considered at CYFN.

“We have people that helped negotiate the agreements and I’ve talked to them about bringing them back into the organization, and they’ve been quite receptive,” he said.

“They’ve devoted their lives to the betterment of our people, and the entire Yukon.”

Carvill credits his win to experience.

He served two terms as Carcross/Tagish First Nation chief, one year as a tribal chief and three years as CYFN grand chief.

“I’ve been able to travel across the territory and build strong relationships with people, and not just with leaders but elders and youth,” said Carvill.

All the chiefs stood and congratulated the candidates.

“Campaigns like this makes the leadership stronger,” said Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Joe Linklater.