Lynda Dickson, the new chief of Carcross/Tagish First Nation, wants to build a healing centre where a former residential school once stood.
“It still has to run through many boards, but to me that is where we lost who we are as a people,” she told reporters on July 17, the day she was sworn in. “The (residential schools) took away who we are as a First Nations people and I think that’s where we should regain who we are. To me, it just seems appropriate that we have a healing centre there.”
Dickson replaces Maria Benoit, who filled in after Andy Carvill was booted from office after sexual harassment allegations were levelled against him.
Dickson received 123 votes in the by-election, edging out four other candidates. She will serve for 10 months before the next election.
It’s too early for her to say if she will run again, Dickson said. Regardless, she continued, the things she wants to accomplish, particularly the healing centre, likely won’t change going forward.
Another objective includes bringing more transparency and accountability to the First Nation.
Housing is also on Dickson’s list. She wants to increase the stock.
“We do have a housing shortage, but, for me, I’d like to see a long-term plan,” Dickson said. “We can’t just build houses and move people out here. We need financial stability for them also, so I hope to have talks with the development corporation.
“The whole thing is we need to employ our people and empower our people.”
There’s room for housing on recently purchased farmland, she said.
Dickson was sworn in during a ceremony hosted at the learning centre.
“I’m very honoured here today, and I will do my best as a spokesperson to lead our government for the benefit of all of our citizens in (a) healthy way and a holistic approach,” she told a large crowd. “Today is a new day … mountains could be moved when we all work together.”
After a brief speech, people waited in a long, meandering line to give her hugs.
“It felt welcoming,” Dickson told reporters. “I think people are ready for a change, apparent with all the happy smiles, not to put anybody in a bad light from the past, but I think today’s a new day and moving forward.”
Contact Julien Gignac at firstname.lastname@example.org