Liard First Nation has elected a new chief and council.
Stephen Charlie beat out eight other candidates, including incumbent George Morgan, for the seat following the First Nation’s election on June 29, earning 81 votes overall.
Morgan came in with the second-most votes at 75.
Other candidates included Georgina Lutz (11), Susan Magun (57), Daniel Morris (35), Travis Stewart (70), Cindy Porter (35), Emma Donnessy (33) and Don Magun (57).
Charlie had told the News in an interview June 29, while the polls were still open, that if he were elected, he planned on bringing more transparency to Liard First Nation’s government and would also be taking a harder stance against other governments if they tried to push the First Nation around.
“I’m a very respectful person, but if you want to be respected, you better give that respect back, and that’s all I ask,” he said.
“… If elected chief, I will not put up with (disrespect) anymore. If I see an injustice and I see government overstepping their bounds and the honour of the Crown being… not lived up to, it doesn’t matter what party, but the government? I will say something.”
He said he was also planning on holding a general assembly and wanted to ensure there was more unity and clarity in communication across Kaska Nation. He also described Liard First Nation’s current elections process as “antiquated” and wanted to see reform across government policies and regulations.
That so many people ran in the election for various positions, Charlie said, was proof that Liard First Nation citizens were ready and hungry for change.
The News was not able to reach Charlie for comment on June 30 before press time, but, in an image posted to his election campaign Facebook page in the early morning said his election as chief was “a win for the people.”
In earlier campaign posts, Charlie wrote that he believed “the Kaska have a great opportunity to be a leading example for other First Nations in how they strengthen and develop their nation.”
“We need to move forward but we also need to remember where we came from and who we are as a Kaska people,” he wrote. “We will do this by respecting one another, returning to our traditional values, being transparent and sharing information, creating opportunities, having regular meetings, and working together as a team.
“I believe that the elders and youth have an important role to play when it comes to governance. We are a strong people and we have the potential to do amazing things together. Help me build up our nation. Join me in creating changes so that we all can benefit and reach our full potential.”
Voters also elected four new councillors — Amanda Brown (110), Timothy Stewart (92), Edward Brodhagen (125) and Derek Loots (121) — from a field of 17 candidates. None of the First Nation’s incumbent councillors ran for re-election for their positions.
Harlan Schilling was elected deputy chief with 40 votes, beating out Fred Lutz Sr. (19) and Walter Carlick (six), while Malcolm Groat and Catherine Porter were elected as councillors representing Kaska traditional territory in British Columbia, beating out four other candidates. (Porter and Groat received 41 and 40 votes, respectively, compared to George Miller’s 13, Ken E. McMillan’s 12, Melanie Miller’s eight and Nadine Handel’s four votes.)
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org
An earlier version of this story listed candidates for chief and councillor positions who dropped out before the election. The News regrets the error.