Former Kwanlin Dun councillor vies for top job

A former Kwanlin Dun First Nation councillor wants back into politics. Ray Webb is one of five people running for chief in the First Nation’s election this month.

A former Kwanlin Dun First Nation councillor wants back into politics.

Ray Webb is one of five people running for chief in the First Nation’s election this month.

Webb was a councillor for Kwanlin Dun from 2008 to 2011. He then ran for chief and lost to Rick O’Brien by 90 votes.

After taking some time away from politics, Webb said he’s ready to come back.

He said he wants to be a chief with an “open door,” who citizens can approach with their questions or opinions.

“If they have some things that they need to say, or want to say, or an idea even, my door’s open,” he said.

“That’s the way it should be. The only time our people actually get recognized is during an election and that’s pretty sad.”

Born in British Columbia, Webb came to the Yukon in 1985 when he was 17 and hasn’t left. His mother was First Nation, his father was white, and Webb said he arrived in the territory not knowing much about his First Nation’s traditions, he said.

“When I came here it took me quite a few years to start to understand my actual rights as a beneficiary and as a First Nation (person) here in the Yukon.”

He currently works as a contractor and has retrofitted a number of buildings on Kwanlin Dun land.

As chief he said he would to do more to help Kwanlin Dun citizens who are homeless.

In January, the First Nation announced it was opening 10 temporary shelter beds in the former St. Elias group home on Fifth Avenue.

Webb said he would like to see the First Nation build more permanent dwellings for people who are homeless.

“We need to negotiate a plan that works for all homeless people and the ones from Kwanlin Dun deserve a dwelling,” he said.

“There’s no way around that. We’re self-governing, we’re supposed to look after our people.”

When he was younger Webb spent some time living on the First Nation’s lot 226 before the community started transitioning to the McIntyre neighbourhood.

That lot has been mostly abandoned, but the few people who remain squatting on the land have resisted any efforts to clean it up, Webb said.

“Right now it looks like a dumping ground for old vehicles. If it’s cleaned up I guarantee you it’s part of a moneymaker.”

Webb is promising to clean up the lot if he is elected chief.

“We will take full control and clean that place up. Remove everybody that needs to be removed. That land needs to be cleaned up, fixed up, and get it ready for title.”

He is promising changes to the way he says board positions are handed out.

If he’s elected chief, Webb said, individuals will only be allowed to sit on one board, not multiple boards

“If they can’t fill those slots with other individuals then they need to figure out a way to fill those slots with other members from other families.”

Webb also wants to know more about the investment Kwanlin Dun First Nation made in Yukon Energy’s LNG facility.

In 2015, current chief Doris Bill said the First Nation would invest up to 50 per cent of value of the project.

“As First Nations people we strive to protect our lands and resources,” Webb said. “LNG is one thing you don’t want to be messing with.”

Kwanlin Dun citizens go to the polls March 15. Bill announced in January that she was seeking re-election. Along with Webb, sitting councillor Charlene Charlie, as well as Jason Charlie and Buck Smarch are running for chief.

Seventeen candidates have put their names forward for the six council seats, including sitting councillors Jessie Dawson, Dennis Calbery, Howard MacIntosh and Sean Smith.

The other council candidates are: Charles Chief, Doronn Fox, Linda Huebschwerlen, Judith Kuster, Irma Scarff, Jacqueline Shorty, Jason Shorty, Michael Smith, Shirley Smith, Sarah Snowdon, Michael Stanley, Ray Sydney and Allan Taylor.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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