Kwanlin Dün First Nation councillor Sean Smith, who is vying for chief, says that his upbringing has primed him for the role.
“I think one of those pieces that I can bring forward that (current chief) Doris (Bill) doesn’t have is being raised up in a traditional family,” he told the News. “This might be a little sore spot for her. It’s something that’s really been foundational for me. You can’t go into a boardroom and learn that. It has to be lived experience.”
Smith, who’s Southern and Northern Tutchone, Tlingit, Tagish Quon, said this would translate if named chief by empowering youth.
“Without those foundational things, we’re still going to find struggles,” he said. “It’s always about the future, but it’s about looking at where we’re at now, too, and where we come from.”
That he’s the next generation following self-government agreements is another positive, he said.
“It really brought a lot of understanding that relationships are important to establish when we’re building our self-governments and implementing our final agreements. It’s that whole idea of working together.”
A lot has been accomplished to date, including the community safety officers program and economic development. But there’s more work to do, he said, which means bringing more employment and business opportunities for citizens and introducing more on-the-land programming.
He said citizens continue to face challenges finding homes. More needs to be done to ensure these barriers are reduced, he said, along with ensuring that housing is up to standard.
Smith is up against Bill and Ian Kuster.
Bill, who recently underwent thyroid cancer treatment, wants to improve health care for KDFN citizens, housing for at-risk youth and those grappling with homelessness, among other things.
Bill told the News last week that citizens have been raising concerns about access to health care for those who need to travel to Vancouver to undergo more specialized treatment offered there. One idea is building a residential health lodge.
“I’m going to push for that, whether or not I’m chief,” she said. “It would be something to ease the burden on people who have to be down there for medical.
“Yukon First Nation people deserve the same standard of care as everyone else.”
There are 16 candidates for councillor positions.
The general election is slated for Mar. 18.
Contact Julien Gignac at firstname.lastname@example.org