Liard First Nation citizens fear scheduled election won’t take place

Some citizens of the Liard First Nation are concerned regularly scheduled elections for chief and council might not take place after a deadline to appoint an election committee came and went.

Some citizens of the Liard First Nation are concerned regularly scheduled elections for chief and council might not take place after a deadline to appoint an election committee came and went.

George Morgan told the News Tuesday that Chief Daniel Morris can still call a special community meeting until mid-August in order to appoint the election committee.

Morgan is the spokesperson of the group Kaska Concerned about Land Protection and Good Government.

The group first formed when Morris signed a resource agreement with the Yukon government in January, claiming it hadn’t been consulted.

Once the mid-August deadline passes, it’s anybody’s guess when or how an election would take place. The News made multiple attempts to reach Morris for comment, but his voicemail was full.

The election committee is in charge of hiring election officers. It also handles appeals regarding the results.

“We fear that the current chief is not the type of guy who is going to like having a fair process,” Morgan said.

Morgan is also the former executive director of the First Nation.

In January 2014, a month after being elected, Morris laid off the entire staff of the First Nation, citing financial constraints.

Morgan stayed on for five months before resigning.

“It became apparent to me that good governance was going to be non-existent,” he said. “He had been boycotting the chief and council meetings.”

Morgan ran against Morris in the 2013 election and lost by 22 votes.

An election is supposed to take place this coming December.

But looking at how the First Nation has been run in the past two years, there is no guarantee that will happen.

In September 2014, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) put the First Nation under third-party management.

At the time, the department said third-party management was a last resort measure to ensure the delivery of core services to LFN citizens.

As of late 2014, the First Nation owed INAC over $400,000.

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

Morgan claims the Canada Revenue Agency seized the band’s bank account earlier this month because of unpaid taxes totalling $1 million.

The CRA didn’t confirm by press time if that’s the case.

In 2014 former LFN chief Liard McMillan told the News that the First Nation ended up with about $2 million in debt after Morris refused to pay income tax during his first term, arguing the First Nation was tax-exempt.

If Morris doesn’t call the special meeting, Morgan said the group would look into getting a court order or organizing the meeting themselves.

“It is theoretically feasible that community members could call a community meeting on their own,” he said.

“Those strategies haven’t been thought about too seriously yet.”

Morgan said Ganhada has the money the federal government allocated for the election.

“We’re hoping the chief and council will have the special community meeting and we will be on track,” he said. “But we’re not confident.”

Morgan said that because LFN is considered a “custom band” under the Indian Act, INAC won’t intervene if the election derails.

An INAC spokesperson said the department has no role in the election.

“The department’s role is limited to ensuring that programs and services funded by the department continue to be delivered to community members,” spokesperson Shawn Jackson told the News.

Tough situation

“Economically, things are very depressed,” Morgan said about the community.

The soup kitchen is in high demand, he added.

“The amount of Liard First Nation citizens who are on social assistance has risen 25 per cent since the current chief and council took office,” he said.

Regular chief and council meetings don’t take place, and there hasn’t been a general assembly since Morris got elected, he said.

“We’re probably at five per cent capacity in terms of government (activity).”

While Morris heavily criticized Ganhada when he filed his lawsuit in May alleging the company had breached its duty to the First Nation, Morgan praised the firm for delivering the services in a difficult situation.

The News previously reported Liard citizens claimed it took more than seven months for the firm to be allowed in the First Nation’s band office.

“Frankly they’re doing a pretty good job,” Morgan said. “We’re glad to have them here.”

But he said frustration is mounting in the community about the how the First Nation is run.

“What’s happened here in terms of governance, it’s really just shocking.”

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

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

Most Read