Kwanlin Dun announces spring election

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation will hold its next general election for a chief and six councillors on Wednesday, March 15.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation will hold its next general election for a chief and six councillors on Wednesday, March 15.

The nomination period is open from Jan. 10 to Feb. 1 for prospective candidates.

Kwanlin Dun Chief Doris Bill told the News she will be seeking re-election. Bill was first elected in 2014, narrowly beating Jennifer Edzerza by just 13 votes. There were four candidates for chief and 17 council candidates in the 2014 election.

Bill said she wants to get more work done as chief, especially around community safety, housing and mental health.

“I gave it a lot of thought and, you know, it’s been a real challenge in some areas, but it’s also been really rewarding,” she said.

Kwanlin Dun is still building up its government, Bill said, a process she finds exciting.

“It’s not an easy task to run a government,” she said. “It doesn’t come with a handbook. In many ways, we’re still learning and feeling our way through many things.”

During Bill’s tenure as chief, she was instrumental in pushing for changes to the Yukon’s Land Titles Act that will allow self-governing First Nations to register settlement land without losing Aboriginal title. She also oversaw the construction of a turning lane on Hamilton Boulevard into the McIntyre subdivision and of several new bus shelters, as well as the purchase of an elders’ bus and new heavy equipment, she said.

The First Nation is also working with the City of Whitehorse on a plan to reduce homelessness and improve conditions for the city’s most vulnerable. Kwanlin Dun is also looking at establishing its own circuit court.

An important part of Bill’s job involves working with other governments, including the Yukon government. Though Bill recently criticized the former Yukon Party government for treating the Yukon Forum as a photo op, she said she was able “to get a lot of things done” with former premier Darrell Pasloski, who was also the MLA for the McIntyre subdivision.

“I thanked him for that work on election night, because we did manage to do an awful lot of work together,” she said.

That includes steps taken to improve community safety around McIntyre after the death of 17-year-old Brandy Vittrekwa, who was found dead on a trail in the community in 2014.

In 2015, the First Nation launched a community-wide clean-up to remove brush from trails and improve lighting around McIntyre. Last year, it created a pilot program with the Yukon government to allow citizens to report crimes and safety concerns to officers hired from the community. Bill said the number of calls to the RCMP has dropped since the program was started.

“It’s good news,” she said. “It’s making a difference.”

Another part of her job, Bill said, is learning to avoid exhaustion.

“This is a 24/7 job, and you have to be available 24/7,” she said. “You have to really take of yourself, too, and you have to learn how to balance that.”

Bill said she believes her re-election bid will be contested. But Norman Eady, the chief returning officer, said no other candidates have put their names forward for chief just yet.

Prospective candidates must provide a nomination form and a criminal record check to the chief returning officer by 4 p.m. on Feb. 1. The election office is located at 4 O’Brien Place in Whitehorse. Nomination forms are available at the election office, at the Kwanlin Dun First Nation main administration building or online at www.kdfnelection.com.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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