Whitehorse lawyer Shaunagh Stikeman is making her first foray into politics with a bid to run for the Yukon NDP in Mountainview during this year’s territorial election.
She said the territory needs a change from the Yukon Party’s “closed, tired and divisive style of leadership.”
“I’m appalled to see relations with First Nations mired by unending court battles,” she said. “This government is not working for us.”
Mountainview is currently held by Premier Darrell Pasloski, who is expected to run for re-election. The riding includes the subdivisions of Hillcrest, Granger, Valleyview and McIntyre, which is home to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Stikeman lives in Hillcrest.
“People and families in Mountainview … certainly deserve better,” Stikeman said. “And I think that Darrell Pasloski has not served the community and it’s time for a change.”
As a lawyer, Stikeman has acted as legal counsel for Yukon First Nations for most of the last five years. She said she’s worked on a variety of issues related to “environmental protection, management of land and resources and protection of aboriginal rights and treaty rights.”
She said her legal background would help her build meaningful regulations and policy if she were elected.
During her announcement, Stikeman offered her thoughts on the Peel watershed dispute. The Supreme Court of Canada recently decided to hear the case, which centres on the Yukon government’s plan to open up a much larger area of the watershed to development than had been recommended by the land-use planning commission. The Yukon government has said the court case will provide clarity about the land-use planning process, but Stikeman said it shouldn’t have come to this.
“The final agreement was very clear about the process that needed to be followed,” she said. “And I do not see that it was to anyone’s benefit for the government to challenge that, to disrespect that and for parties to have to fight that all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
Stikeman has served on the boards of the Yukon Film Society, the Garderie du petit cheval blanc and Montessori Borealis Preschool. She has also volunteered with Yukon Cares, the organization that brought a Syrian refugee family to Whitehorse in January.
Former federal NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin was also present at Stikeman’s announcement last week, in support of her nomination bid.
“I’ve met her, of course, several times and just am really impressed with her knowledge, her ability to see both sides of an issue and not just be dogmatic but to really … bring people together. And that’s so important,” McLaughlin said. She added that she’d like to see more young women in the legislature.
Stikeman will be running against longtime NDP activist Skeeter Wright for the nomination in Mountainview.
Former city councillor Mike Gladish is seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding.
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