David Poitras elected chief of Salt River First Nation

Last modified: September 17, 2019 at 2:15pm

David Poitras has been elected the new chief of Salt River First Nation in Fort Smith, beating Ronald Schaefer by more than 50 votes.

Poitras received 149 votes to Schaefer’s 91.

New councillors include Archie Beaulieu, Donny Beaulieu, Henry Beaver Jr, Kendra Bourke, Levi McDonald, and April McAllister.


Following a recent trend in the NWT, a female candidate for council – McAllister – received the most votes.

On Facebook, Poitras thanked supporters on his personal page. Cabin Radio was not able to reach him for comment.

According to his Facebook page, Poitras is a dog musher who worked for 25 years as an addictions counsellor.

He was also chief of Salt River from December 2011 to January 2013, when he resigned amid accusations from council of “financial mismanagement and poor communication.”

At the time, Poitras told the Northern Journal Salt River’s debt dated back to 2008. He blamed previous councils for the state of the finances, as did Frieda Martselos when she took office after him.


Poitras was first elected in 2011 – then, as now, replacing Martselos after she stepped down from the role – and subsequently acclaimed in 2012. The two have spent more than a decade trading the position since Martselos first defeated Poitras in a 2007 election.

Martselos resigned to run for MLA

Salt River First Nation has been without a chief for the past few weeks. Martselos resigned effective August 30 in order to run for MLA in the Thebacha district.

The First Nation recently opened a conference centre in the community under Martselos’ leadership. However, she was unable to bring members together to pass a budget this year, trying four times between February and June.

The budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year remains to be passed by the new chief and council.