Former MLA Darius Elias speaks during legislative assembly in 2012. Elias was recently appointed to the Vuntut Gwitchin government and will be holding the education and recreation portfolio. (Yukon News file)

Darius Elias appointed as fourth Vuntut Gwitchin councillor

The position has been empty since 2018 election, when there were three candidates for four positions

Vuntut Gwitchin government now has a fourth councillor, filling an opening left since the election last November.

Former MLA Darius Elias was “duly recommended” by the elders council for the position, the government said in a press release May 21, and will be holding the education and recreation portfolio as well as serving as the standing committee chair.

He was sworn in on May 18, during Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s annual Caribou Days celebration.

“It is with an honour that is difficult to explain….I accept the Elders confidence to serve as your Councillor and help lead our Vuntut people and usher in a new era of prosperity with a solid smart and energetic TEAM!” Elias wrote on Facebook.

In the press release, Elias added that it was a “tremendous honour” to be recommended by the elders.

Elias has previously served two terms as a Liberal MLA for the Vuntut Gwitchin riding — from 2006 to 2011 — before switching to the Yukon Party in 2013. He ran for a third term in 2016 but lost to the Yukon Liberals’ Pauline Frost, and has since worked as Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s fish and wildlife manager.

“Chief & Council welcomes Darius Elias to our team and we are happy to now have a full leadership,” Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm said in the press release. “He brings a wealth of corporate knowledge and political experience in public government to our First Nation.”

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation had held its election for chief and council on Nov. 19, 2018.

Elias, as well as incumbent Bruce Charlie, had run for chief in that election, but were both beat out by Tizya-Tramm.

However, there were only three eligible candidates for the four councillor positions available; Cheryl Joyce Charlie, Marvin Frost Jr. and Brandy Star Tizya were all acclaimed after the closing of nominations on Nov. 1, 2018.

A Vuntut Gwitchin citizen who tried to run for a councillor position in that election has since taken the First Nation to court. Cindy Dickson, who lives in Whitehorse, filed a petition earlier this year seeking a judicial review of the decision to reject her nomination due to a requirement in the Vuntut Gwitchin constitution requiring candidates to reside on settlement land (namely, Old Crow).

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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