The chief of the Kluane First Nation has decided not to run for re-election and will instead try her hand at territorial politics.
Math’ieya Alatini announced Thursday she is seeking the nomination to be the Liberal candidate in the Kluane riding this fall.
“Six years is a lot of energy to put into changing government and building a nation,” she said. “I think I’m ready for a change and this is a next step. We’ll see if the citizens of the Yukon in the Kluane riding want me to represent them.”
Alatini said she was approached by all of the Yukon’s political parties to run this election and chose the Liberal Party because it represents a “balanced value.”
“If you look at the work and all of the speaking that I’ve done for Kluane First Nation, it’s always been from a format of inclusivity but also making decisions now that affect seven generations, making sure that there are economic opportunities but not at the expense of future generations,” she said.
“I think that the Liberal Party embodies that value and it’s something that I want to carry forward.”
The First Nation was originally scheduled to have its next election Aug. 19 but it has since been postponed, Alatini said.
At the most recent general assembly the First Nation voted to have electronic ballots this election, “especially given the pending Canada Post strike,” she said.
“We have about 180 voters and about 110 of those are mail-in ballots. So it would seriously impede the electoral process.”
The First Nation’s Elections Act will need to be changed to allow for electronic ballots. After that a special general assembly will be called to pass the changes and set a new election date.
Alatini said she still expects the election to happen sometime in August.
Alatini said she thinks the Liberal Party values having an open dialogue with First Nation governments.
Yukon First Nations are concerned about being included in the territorial budget-making process and the infrastructure decisions, she said.
“It’s fine to have a representative of government, in terms of a manager or director, go out to a community and have a meeting and say, ‘Okay, what’s your checklist?’” she said.
“But there’s an expectation amongst governing nations that they be party to the larger discussions of how those infrastructure dollars are spent. I think that type of a process needs to be brought forward. It’ll affect more than just the Kluane riding, I think that will affect all of Yukon.”
Alatini doesn’t believe her decision to publicly support an opposing political party will impact deals the First Nation already has with the Yukon Party.
That includes a commitment for the design and construction of a school in Burwash and $1 million towards a wind turbine project, she said.
“I think it would be petty if it was to be pulled off the table and I don’t expect that from this government,” she said.
Kluane is currently represented by Environment Minister Wade Istchenko. Renewable energy advocate Sally Wright is seeking the NDP nomination.
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