Tr’ondek Hwech’in set to elect new chief

The Tr’ondek Hwech’in will be heading to the polls on Monday to elect its chief and council for the next three-year term.

The Tr’ondek Hwech’in will be heading to the polls on Monday to elect its chief and council for the next three-year term.

Four candidates are running for the position of chief while eight are vying for four councillor spots.

Eddie Taylor is not seeking a third term as chief and is in the running for a councillor position instead.

Clara Van Bibber is one of the candidates for chief.

She said she’s been a part of the self-government implementation process for years and wants to help her people understand what that means.

“I want us to talk about that in a language that we all understand instead of throwing the words ‘self-government’ around,” she said.

“I want our next steps to be moving towards creating our own governance, based on our traditions and values, as opposed to the cookie cutter policies we’ve adopted from the Department of Indian Affairs.”

Van Bibber has been a part of Tr’ondek Hwech’in’s government for nine years altogether, serving as deputy chief and councillor in three separate terms.

She also worked with members of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in the 1970s to develop the Together Today for our Children Tomorrow document.

The text, presented to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa, provided reasons in favour of Yukon First Nations’ independence and self-governance.

“I believe all of this has given me valuable experience and knowledge to represent our people,” Van Bibber said.

“I want our collective voice to be heard on the tough issues such as the Peel watershed, our land, heritage, the environment and mining agreements.”

Van Bibber said she wants to implement more traditional laws and traditions throughout the First Nation’s policies.

She thinks it’s a good time to ask members if the First Nation’s constitution and policies are truly representing them as a nation.

Tr’ondek Hwech’in voices aren’t being heard on the large stages and she wants to change that, she said.

Van Bibber is up against Darren Taylor, whose nine-year tenure as chief was ended when Eddie Taylor was elected in 2008.

Roberta Joseph, the First Nation’s Fish and Wildlife coordinator, and Deputy Chief Jay Farr are also fighting for the position.

Taylor, Joseph and Farr could not be reached for comment by press time.

The election is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6.