Dana Tizya-Tramm celebrates on Nov. 19 after being voted in as Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s new chief. (Submitted)

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s new chief may be youngest in recent history

Dana Tizya-Tramm said he’s looking forward to building a strong leadership team, increasing transparency

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s newly-elected chief may be the youngest person to hold the title in recent history.

“I don’t know about the entire history, but within our recent history, for sure. My uncle, Joe Linklater, he came into office at 33,” Dana Tizya-Tramm said in an interview Nov. 22.

“I’m 31, so I must be one of the youngest, yes.”

Tizya-Tramm, who’s currently wrapping up a term as a Vuntut Gwitchin councillor, won the Nov. 19 election with 95 votes, beating out two other candidates — former Yukon MLA Darius Elias, who received 80, and incumbent Bruce Charlie, who received 66.

Tizya-Tramm, however, said he didn’t see the election as a competition.

“It feels good to have the support of the people but other than that, it’s business as usual. In my view … I don’t look at it as I was running against anyone so much as we were all running for government,” he said.

As chief, Tizya-Tramm said his goals include building a strong leadership team, delivering consistent programming for Vuntut Gwitchin citizens, developing “well-connected” policies, and posting those policies, as well as finances and progress updates, publicly online.

“A lot of it is establishing transparency and clear and concise communication with our beneficiaries as well as our partners,” he said. “I guess you could say, if I did have a slogan, it would be that, the Vuntut Gwitchin government name should be the pride of our people, gold to the banks and solidity for our partners.”

Tizya-Tramm said that with his new role will come stepping back a bit from some of the advocacy work he’s done, including on calling for the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd and speaking out for Gwich’in rights.

“My portfolios will be administration and finance, and I’ll be happy to really be present in the community and to really do a lot of the work in and from the community,” he said.

Tizya-Tramm will serve his four-year term with councillors Cheryl Joyce Charlie, Marvin Frost Jr. and Brandy Star Tizya, who were acclaimed Nov. 1 after the closing of nominations. A fourth councillor position remains unfilled.

The council is made up of younger people too, Tizya-Tramm said, something he described as “really exciting” and proof that First Nations youth are capable and willing to step up.

“If you look at four years, within context of the Gwich’in people, it is the blink of an eye and it is our ancestors that started this path,” he said. “We were always a self-governing people. We were always a self-governing people and for a litany of trappers and hunters to form one of the strongest self-government agreements, it’s because they understood partnerships and resources and working together … I’m just one thread in a very strong rope that extends to our future generations.

“So I hope what this signals (to) the young First Nations youth in the North and across the country that there is a viable path for them in their government, in their institutions, and that me being here is less about me and represents strong support that I have … I’m really a conduit and will rely very much on our elders, so it’s all to do with being of your community and that’s what I really hope it signals to (First Nations) youth.”

“I’m extremely thankful and also indebted to the people and this will be a leadership of the people,” he added.

Vuntut Gwitchin’s new chief and council will be sworn in Jan. 9.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.co

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