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Pauline Frost wins tight Vuntut Gwitchin election, results going to recount

Preliminary results show Pauline Frost received the most votes in her favour
Yukon Liberal Party candidate Pauline Frost speaks with media following a judicial recount of the riding of Vuntut Gwitchin’s results of the territorial election in Whitehorse on April 19, 2021. As of Nov. 22, 2022, Frost is facing another recount as part of the race for chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. (The Canadian Press/Mark Kelly)

Pauline Frost has been elected chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, according to preliminary results.

Three out of four candidates for chief landed within four votes of each other, with Frost squeaking out the preliminary win with 68 ballots counted in her favour.

Bruce Charlie ended the campaign with 65 votes, Paul Josie with 64 and Bonnee Bingham with 13.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21.

By phone on Nov 22, communications manager Gyde Shepherd told the News there will be a recount within three days since the race for chief was so close.

“To my family, and all those that supported me on this new journey, mahsi choo for believing in me,” Frost said in a Facebook post after the initial count.

“I, too, have great respect for the process and those that worked the polls for this election, and will patiently wait for the recount.”

It wasn’t the closest political race in Frost’s recent history.

The results of the 2021 territorial election in the Vuntut Gwitchin riding, where former Yukon Liberal Party MLA Frost ran against NDP candidate Annie Blake, came to a perfect tie. As a result, a name was drawn at random in order to declare Blake the eventual winner and elected MLA for the riding.

Justice Suzanne Duncan later dismissed a case by Frost challenging the results of the territorial election.

As a former MLA, Frost has served as the minister of Health and Social Services, minister of Environment and minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation, according to a biography from the Liberal’s territorial election campaign.

In the bio, Frost has worked for Vuntut Gwitchin Government as their negotiator, intergovernmental coordinator and senior official. The bio states she has been president of the Vuntut Gwitchin Limited Partnership, chair of the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee and sat on the Air North board, as well as a board member on the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association.

In a Facebook post in the week leading up to the ballot count, Frost outlined some of her priorities including boosting supports and services to deal with the opioid crisis across the territory, which she said Old Crow is “not immune” to, and defining what prohibition means to the community. She also lists climate change, the housing shortage and education and a lack of teachers in Old Crow in the post.

“As a confident leader, with a proven track record, I am very vocal and will not hesitate to go after what is needed for the success of our community and its citizens,” reads Frost’s post.

No incumbent ran in the Vuntut Gwitchin Government election.

In September, now-outgoing chief Dana Tizya-Tramm was named to a Time Magazine list recognizing 100 rising stars from around the world. In his profile, Tizya-Tramm was elected to lead the First Nation in 2018 when he was 31, becoming the youngest known chief of the First Nation and representing “a community battered by global warming” as permafrost in Old Crow thawed and carbon and salmon populations declined.

In an email from Shepherd, the new council will be sworn in on Jan. 11, 2023.

A Nov. 4 Facebook post by Vuntut Gwitchin Government gave notice that no poll will be held for the four councillor positions, with only two candidates putting their names forward.

Jeneen Njootli and Debra-Leigh Reti have been acclaimed as councillors.

On Nov. 29, two people will be appointed to the open two seats for councillor.

— With files from Haley Ritchie and Stephanie Waddell

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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