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Getting to know the candidates in Mayo-Tatchun

Mayo-Tatchun is the largest riding in the Yukon and includes the communities of Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, Mayo, Stewart Crossing and Keno City in addition to being the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.
Liberal candidate Jeremy Harper, from left, NDP candidate Patty Wallingham and Yukon Party candidate Peter Grundmanis. (Submitted photos)

Mayo-Tatchun is the largest riding in the Yukon and includes the communities of Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, Mayo, Stewart Crossing and Keno City in addition to being the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.

In the past decade, the riding has usually voted NDP or Liberal. In 2016 voters elected Liberal MLA Don Hutton into power, but in a dramatic exit days before the election was called, Hutton resigned from cabinet. He said despite his pleading, the Liberal government had not done enough to tackle rural addiction issues.

Hutton has since thrown his support behind NDP candidate Patty Wallingham. All three candidates know each other as students or teachers, and all three are involved in sports and recreation. The candidates have been profiled in alphabetical order.

Jeremy Harper - Yukon Liberal Party

Jeremy Harper says he likes to keep busy.

A member of Selkirk First Nation who lives in both Carmacks and Pelly Crossing, Harper’s family in the area goes back generations. He is a recreation coordinator for the community and currently serves as a Wolf Councillor. He has also served as a part-time director on the board for the Selkirk Development Corporation for nine years.

On top of that, he is a member of the Canadian Rangers and fills the rest of his time with baseball, hockey and hunting for his family. Now he’s looking to add the legislature to the list.

This election he’s heard from people who want action on a facility to help elders age in place and more holistic support to help people manage addictions.

“It breaks my heart seeing the elders leaving,” he said. “They are literally heartbroken.”

Harper said supporting people dealing with alcohol and drug use is another priority that he would work on. He said the solution needs to involve a wider community approach, not just funding for two on-the-land treatment programs a year for men and women.

“It comes down to making sure they stay on track, making sure you have follow-up, and making sure there’s a counsellor living in the community,” he said. “Anger management, the sort of courses that will slowly help them progress from what they’re struggling with. It’s not only alcohol and drugs, there’s a struggle with a lot of social issues that go on in our rural communities. I lived it, I breathe it, I see it firsthand. Later on [if people receive help] they become mentors, they become role models, speak on behalf of their trials and tribulations and help others.”

Patty Wallingham - Yukon NDP

When incumbent Don Hutton resigned from the Liberal party, he said he believed the NDP could make a difference in the addiction and substance-use struggles facing some residents in the riding.

Candidate Patty Wallingham said that is one of her priorities, along with affordable housing, aging-in-place facilities for seniors in Carmacks and road maintenance.

“Affordable housing and land for housing is a huge issue. When you can support a person to live and stay in their own community with job opportunities, and decentralizing our Yukon government jobs from Whitehorse to the communities, you’re going to be supported in your well-being because you’re comfortable,” she said.

In Keno, she referenced the loss of municipal services like drinking water and fire. She said people in Pelly Crossing are also concerned with road maintenance.

“People living in that riding travel that highway all the time for basic needs, like groceries and health care,” she said.

Wallingham is a Na-Cho Nyak Dun citizen and grew up in Pelly Crossing and Carmacks. While she currently lives in Whitehorse, Wallingham said she’d consider relocating if elected as MLA.

She recently completed a bachelor degree in physical education and coaching from Douglas College and is interested in pursuing teaching. Wallingham has also represented the Yukon as a curler at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“I feel like I’ve been advocating in sport and through sport, but as I went to school it just made me realize how little control you have in certain branches of government. When it comes to recreation and health care, I felt like in a position like this, I could really advocate for the people experiencing issues,” she said.

Peter Grundmanis - Yukon Party

Grundmanis was raised in Elsa and went to high school in Mayo. He is a former Whitehorse high school teacher and coach and taught at F.H. Collins for 27 years.

Grundmanis is now executive director of the Yukon Schools Athletic Association and lives in Whitehorse, although he owns property in Mayo-Tatchun and travels regularly to the region.

“My home riding, my hometown, it’s where my heart is,” he said.

“A lot of people have expressed frustration at not being represented as well as they could be. I remember when I grew up in Elsa there was a lack of opportunities, there was lack of funding, there was lack of sports opportunities. And I remember that feeling of being left out,” he said. “I think because of that I can be a stronger advocate for them in the Legislative Assembly.”

Going door-to-door this election season, Grundmanis said he’s hearing different issues from each of the diverse communities.

“There’s a lot going on, there’s so many communities and groups that are affected by this election. So what I’m hearing at the door in Keno City is that they’re missing their services. They’re really feeling frustrated and they’re left out.” he said, referring to the two fires that have happened in the community in the past months with no fire service and no functioning well.

“In Mayo it’s the relationship with the First Nations, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, with the mineral wealth in that area, there will have to be some clarity for that going forward. And, of course, housing all in Carmacks and in Mayo, the lack of affordable housing for workers, is front and foremost in a lot of people’s minds,” he said.

Contact Haley Ritchie at