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Recount Confirms New Chief’s Triumph / Liard First Nation. Whitehorse Star

WRITTEN: July 8, 2020 - AUTHOR:

Date: July 8, 2020

By July 8, 2020August 24th, 2020No Comments

Whitehorse Star

July 7, 2020 | Gabrielle Plonka

The Liard First Nation election recount conducted Monday saw Chief Stephen Charlie maintain his victory by a smaller margin than in the original count.

VICTORY CONFIRMED – Stephen Charlie was elected Liard First Nation chief June 29 by a small margin that was subject to a recount Monday. Photo courtesy FACEBOOK

The Liard First Nation election recount conducted Monday saw Chief Stephen Charlie maintain his victory by a smaller margin than in the original count.

“I’m just so grateful and so honoured that the Kaska people have selected me to be their leader,” Charlie told the Star today.

Charlie beat incumbent chief George Morgan by four votes, according to the unofficial final results posted Monday. The original count saw Charlie win by six votes.

The election took place on June 29.

Charlie spoke of prioritizing self-reliance, employment and harmony in the community.

“I campaigned on transparency and unity and building a path forward for everyone and focusing on elders and youth,” Charlie said.

“There’s a lot of division among the Kaska Nation and it seems to be that past leadership has encouraged that division, or didn’t know how to deal with it.”

Charlie said he wants to establish unity and common purpose with First Nation members and residents who are not members of the nation.

“If we develop programs that look at advancing not just the Kaska but everyone, everyone working together, we’re going to have their support,” Charlie said.

“I’m fostering that relationship with the people in town here,” he added, referring to Watson Lake.

Charlie’s vision of a unified purpose extends to include community RCMP.

“I’m not saying I want to work with the RCMP when they get in line and on the other side of barricades of First Nations people protecting their land,” Charlie said.

“But I support RCMP when they do community policing … and help us with our social problems.”

Charlie is also prioritizing reinstilling independence and self-reliance into the Kaska people.

“That once was an integral part of their lives, and through all the different types of policies and strategies from government and systemic racism have pushed them into a situation in which they find themselves now,” Charlie said.

Establishing self-reliance looks like respecting elders, prioritizing culture, tradition, language and attachment to the land, Charlie explained.

The new chief also wants to see First Nation programming in the community that would be rooted in tradition and lend support to members who have accessed addiction treatment.

“We have got to develop programs that support young people and give them something other than falling back into the same situation than they were before,” Charlie said.

Programming would help youth reconnect with elders and traditional ways like hunting, trapping, fishing, learning the language and making regalia, he said.

Charlie was born in Watson Lake and recently returned to the Yukon from the N.W.T., where he worked for the territorial government.

He was elected chief with 80 votes, beating eight candidates.

Working with Charlie on council will be Edward Brodhagen, Amanda Brown, Derek Loots and Timothy Stewart. The three councillors won 124, 110 and 92 votes respectively, according to unofficial final results.

Harlan Schilling was elected deputy chief with 40 votes. He beat two candidates to the position.

The B.C. councillors are Malcolm Groat and Catherine Porter.

The Liard First Nation encompasses southeastern Yukon and northern B.C. and has 1,400 members. The nation’s members live predominantly in Watson Lake and Lower Post, B.C.

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PO Box 9, Lower Post, BC V0C 1W0
Phone: 250.779.3181 | Fax: 250.779.3020