Vuntut Gwitchin election on hold

Plans for an election for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation government have been put on ice. On the last day of November, Chief Norma Kassi announced she was effectively resigning after only one year in office.

Plans for an election for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation government have been put on ice.

On the last day of November, Chief Norma Kassi announced she was effectively resigning after only one year in office.

Without the ability for the First Nation’s council to have a quorum, Kassi said she would call an election. She also said she would not put her name forward to run again for chief.

Two days prior to the announcement, deputy chief Lorraine Netro submitted her resignation. She was the second of four councillors to resign since the November 2010 election. Brandon Kyikavichik was the first. He left the position only months after being appointed.

According to the First Nation’s December news release, a third councillor, Katherine Nukon, was expected to retire in the New Year, leaving only Margaret Smith and Kassi.

Kassi said she would call an election after a special general assembly in Old Crow on Dec. 28.

But on Wednesday afternoon, a news release from the Vuntut Gwitchin government confirmed that no election would be called at this time.

“It was announced at the general assembly that a constitutional review committee, which is currently revising the constitution, would complete its revisions by late April 2012,” the release said.

“If certain governance revisions to the constitution are approved by the general assembly (which is due to meet in May, 2012) it would be possible to call a general election and in that event, Chief Norma Kassi has stated that she would agree to resign as chief and assist a new council during a transition period.”

No explanation has been given by the Old Crow-based government as to what has changed since the December announcement. Only Kassi can comment on the decision to hold off on the election, government staff said, and she is currently travelling outside the territory and not available for comment.

Netro, a former New Democratic MLA for the territory’s northernmost riding, refused to comment on her reasons for resigning in November, stating only that it was a difficult decision and she was leaving for personal reasons.

Kassi, who also served as NDP MLA for the region, stated in December she has done the best she could as chief with the support that she had.

“But I want to step aside humbly and accept the fact that there’s some people that are not very happy, and move forward,” she said in an earlier interview. “I don’t want to hang onto something and get in people’s way if they want to progress.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com