Doris Bill, the chief of Kwanlin Dün First Nation, at an announcement in Whitehorse on Nov. 28, 2018. The First Nation has a general election slated for Mar. 18 and Bill says she is running for re-election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

‘Maybe there’s a reason why I’m still here’: Doris Bill on seeking re-election

The chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation recently underwent treatment for thyroid cancer

There is too much in the works at Kwanlin Dün First Nation to give up now, said Doris Bill, and that is why she is running for re-election as chief.

Bill, who’s held the position for the past two terms, recently underwent thyroid cancer treatment, taking on light duties during a brief hiatus.

She cleared the air, saying that nothing is holding her back. While she continues to work with doctors in order to repair problems with her voice, Bill is cancer-free.

“I feel that I am more than capable of carrying out the duties of the chief,” she said. “I just feel that I have more work to do. Maybe there’s a reason why I’m still here.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the two terms that I’ve been in office. We’ve accomplished an awful lot and I really feel that consistency is important if we’re going to continue down this path — stability, as well.”

Under Bill’s leadership, Kwanlin Dün marked a first by registering a piece of its Settlement A lands with the Yukon’s titles office on Nov. 28, 2018, green-lighting its ability to bring residential and commercial properties to market.

Amendments were made to its self-government agreement in 2015, effective 2017, to ensure the territorial Land Titles Act applies to parcels of settlement land registered in the Yukon Land Titles Office, even if the First Nation was to have its own legislation dealing with the same subject matter under the act.

Dovetailed with that were changes the Yukon government made to the Land Titles Act, which allowed for First Nations to register settlement lands without relinquishing title. If re-elected, Bill said the focus would pivot to implementation.

“That means that our people can start getting out onto the land, something that many of our people have waited a long, long time for,” she said. “It was an enormous amount of work. I think I might have underestimated the amount of work before we went into this.”

Housing for at-risk youth in the community is also on the runaway, Bill said. So, too, is a supportive living initiative for citizens grappling with homelessness, additional housing in McIntyre and home repairs.

Bill said citizens have been raising concerns about access to health care for those who need to travel to Vancouver to undergo more specialized treatment offered there. One idea is building a residential health lodge.

“I’m going to push for that, whether or not I’m chief,” she said. “It would be something to ease the burden on people who have to be down there for medical.

“Yukon First Nation people deserve the same standard of care as everyone else.”

She recounted a situation where elders had to travel to appointments in downtown Vancouver from Burnaby in order to save money.

“The rooms were so expensive,” Bill said. “They could not afford it.”

Patients would benefit from a health advocate who could help them navigate the system, she added.

Under Bill’s leadership, the community safety officers program, which acts as an intermediary between the RCMP and citizens, was introduced. Bill said two more years of funding has been secured for it.

Bill also lobbied for federal compensation for self-government negotiations. Roughly $20 million over seven years has been earmarked for the First Nation, she said, adding that the money will start to flow back this year. It’s unclear when that will happen exactly.

Chief returning officer Norman Eady said that two others are vying for chief — Sean Smith and Ian Kuster. There are 16 candidates for councillor positions.

The general election is slated for Mar. 18.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

electionKwanlin Dun First Nation

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