Eric Fairclough is the new chief of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.
Fairclough won the election on Wednesday, taking 145 votes to beat incumbent Eddie Skookum, who took 117 votes, and Michael Cashin, who garnered 57.
Deputy Chief Leta Blackjack gets to keep her job for another term, earning 119 votes over Meta Williams, who got 121.
Russell Blackjack and Leonard Charlie won the two Crow councillor positions. Wolf councillors Shwanda Wheeler and Darlene Johnson also join Elder Councillor Shirley Bellmore and Youth Councillor Teagan Unterschute on the new council.
Fairclough is a former chief and, more recently, served as the riding’s MLA. He said he’s excited about being back in the chief’s chair.
“It felt good, knowing that I was in the lead and at the end it was a relief that the campaign is all over and a new team has been elected,” he said.
“This is a new team, and a new mandate. We get sworn in on Nov. 28, next week. I look forward to working with them and going through the transition.”
Fairclough worked with Leta Blackjack during his first term as chief, from 1990 to 1996. He said he’s excited about resuming that partnership.
He said the first priority will be to get the new council up to speed on the First Nation’s finances and the challenges ahead. The biggest of those is the community’s shortage of viable housing, and Fairclough said he will rely on his experience in territorial politics to find solutions.
“The whole issue of housing was raised during the election. In the territorial government, you go through a planning process with the Finance Department. The fiscal year is end of March, so we need to get our budgets in place and see how we can move forward,” said Fairclough.
Housing is also Blackjack’s primary concern.
“From what I’ve experienced in the past year and a half, housing is one of our issues. We need to be working with the capital department to meet the needs of housing and renovation of homes in the community,” she said.
She said she looks forward to the experience Fairclough brings to the table.
“I have worked with him in previous years when he was chief. As a councillor, I have a good working relationship with him, and look forward to working with him. It’s a change that will bring a lot of hard work that can be accomplished. He has a lot of experience, and a lot more political experience that he brings back to the community after being an MLA. Those experiences will help Little Salmon/Carmacks very much.
“I believe we can start working on a lot of implementation programs that need to be worked on, like land use management, and some of our acts that we need to put in place,” said Blackjack.
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