Massie returned as Ta’an chief

Ruth Massie was elected chief of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council on Monday. She took 124 votes, compared to her challenger, Bonnie Harpe, who…

Ruth Massie was elected chief of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council on Monday.

She took 124 votes, compared to her challenger, Bonnie Harpe, who garnered 97.

Gail Anderson was elected as deputy chief with 130 votes, against 65 for Barb Hare and 26 for Diane Graham.

“Our turnout was 68 per cent, so that means the people have spoken,” Massie said Monday.

“Hopefully we can move on to our agendas.

“When I was campaigning, I heard a lot from our citizens about their needs, not so much the issue of governance.”

The margin of victory is substantially larger than it was in the Ta’an’s 2004 election, in which Harpe pulled 58 votes to Massie’s 60.

A judicial council set aside that result after it was determined that the third candidate, Sam Broeren, was ineligible to receive the 48 votes he took, because of an old criminal record.

Massie served as acting chief before she was officially returned to the post.

Despite a higher voter turnout than 2004, Harpe and another candidate are considering an appeal of Monday’s result that must be filed within 30 days, she said.

“There have been some complaints about the way in which the entire election was handled,” said Harpe, noting that her scrutineers were not allowed to count all the ballots, and that 31 names were removed from the list of eligible Ta’an voters.

“We would like to know who made this decision to remove these people from the voters list and what was the criteria for removing them.”

Many Ta’an citizens did not bother voting because they have “given up on their own First Nation,” said Harpe.

“I know that the pain and suffering that my people have had to endure in the name of self-government is not what my great-great-grandmother Susie Jim or her brother, chief Jim Boss, envisioned for their people.”

Affordable housing is the biggest issue confronting the Ta’an, said Massie.

“We do not have housing. We inherited four houses through the separation from Kwanlin Dun.

“We do not have the history that other First Nations have, and we do not have the benefits that other First Nations have.

“But we are catching up.”

The Ta’an want an exact breakdown of how a $50 million affordable housing trust fund from Ottawa will be split in the Yukon, she said.

“There is a proposal from the Yukon government on the table.

“We will get together with the (Council of Yukon First Nations) leadership to discuss that.”

The First Nation has not had a successful general assembly since 2003.

“We’ve already brought that question up today,” said Massie.

“It’s time to start focusing on our citizens.”

Three families walked out of the last attempt at a general assembly in 2004, said Harpe, who is asking for a forensic audit of the First Nation’s finances.

“There have been many unanswered questions, doubts and many speculations throughout the years about the state of our finances.

“We have yet to receive any financial accountability under Massie’s leadership.

“Therefore, we are wondering how (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) continues to fund our First Nation.”