‘It was almost like a protest:’ Liard citizens call election meeting

The Liard First Nation (LFN) is on track to have its regularly scheduled election in mid-December after 80 citizens took it upon themselves to create an election committee during a special meeting Tuesday.

The Liard First Nation (LFN) is on track to have its regularly scheduled election in mid-December after 80 citizens took it upon themselves to create an election committee during a special meeting Tuesday.

LFN’s electoral rules require an election committee be set up to oversee the vote.

But after Chief Daniel Morris and the only two remaining sitting councillors missed a deadline to call a special meeting to establish the committee, members decided to do it themselves.

“It was almost like an act of protest,” said George Morgan, who helped organize the meeting. “But the members were well within their rights.”

Morgan is a spokesperson for the group Kaska Concerned about Land Protection and Good Government. He said 80 people is far more than the quorum of 55 required for LFN general assemblies.

There are about 300 LFN members, according to 2011 statistics from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

The group formed after Morris signed a controversial resource agreement deal with the Yukon government in January.

Morgan is also the former executive director of the First Nation, and lost the 2013 LFN election to Morris by a few votes.

Back in July when he was raising concerns about Morris missing the deadline to call a special meeting, Morgan made it clear he would be candidate for chief.

Morgan said Tuesday’s meeting followed Liard electoral rules and that the group sought a legal opinion before going ahead.

The meeting was a “huge” show of support, he said. “It’s more support than Daniel has had for any meeting he’s thrown.”

Normally it would be up to the chief and councillors to call such a meeting, he said.

“Our election law is silent on who calls the special meeting,” he said. “(But) we forget that the real authority is the people.”

There were a handful of Morris supporters at the meeting, Morgan said. One asked why the chief wasn’t present.

“We sent him a letter inviting him,” Morgan said. “We were told he went hunting.”

If the election’s validity is challenged, Morgan said, his group is ready to seek a court order.

“It would be hard to imagine that any judge in Canada would deny us the relief we seek.”

The meeting, chaired by a well-known elder Neil Sterritt, took place without any conflict, Morgan said.

The Liard First Nation has been in a state of turmoil since since late 2014 when the federal government placed the First Nation under third-party management.

At the time, INAC said the move was a last resort to ensure the delivery of core services to LFN citizens.

Vancouver-based Ganhada Management Group has since been in charge of delivering services from pension plans to social assistance.

INAC has refused to provide any information about how much money the First Nation still owes to the federal government. As of late 2014, it was over $400,000.

There’s also the question of unpaid taxes, about $1 million, the First Nation owes to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA declined to confirm whether LFN’s bank account had been seized.

Morgan said he had to pay out of pocket to organize the meeting, mainly for advertising. He hopes he’ll be eventually reimbursed.

Ganhada is administering the governance funding for the First Nation and indicated it was willing to pay for the cost of the election, he said.

Now that the election committee is set up, they’ll have to hire an election officer.

They have about one month to do so, Morgan said, if the election is to go ahead mid-December.

Morris could not be reached by press time early Wednesday. He hasn’t replied to any requests for comment since he launched a legal action against INAC and Ganhada in May, claiming they withheld money earmarked for the First Nation.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read