Jane Weyallon Armstrong is vying for the Monfwi MLA seat recently vacated by Jackson Lafferty in this month’s by-election.
Weyallon Armstrong, who lives in Behchokǫ̀, stressed she plans to stay in the community and will commute to Yellowknife if elected.
She is currently the president of the Native Women’s Association of the NWT and a councillor in Behchokǫ̀. She has also worked as a guidance and career counsellor with the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency.
Weyallon Armstrong has a Bachelor of Arts with a major in political science and a minor in what is now called Indigenous studies.
If elected, she says she’ll focus on bringing housing and social issues to the fore during the two years remaining until the next territorial election.
She has been campaigning in Wekweètì and will be in Gamètì from July 14-16 before visiting Whatì the following week.
Cabin Radio has approached all four candidates in this month’s by-election for interviews. Polling day is July 27.
Listen to the full interview by downloading or streaming Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News podcast.
This interview was recorded on July 12, 2021. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sarah Pruys: Why did you decide to run in this election?
Jane Weyallon Armstrong: I decided to run because I know there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. And right now, the most important ones are housing and social issues.
It’s an important time because there are lots of things happening with these due to the pandemic. There’s a lot of domestic violence, trauma, and climate change. I mean, even the residential school stuff that’s happening right now, due to all these things, there’s a lot of social and housing issues. So that’s why I decided to run.
We’ve been forgotten for so long, we feel that we’ve been left behind. We need an MLA that’s going to be working with and for the people, with organizations in our region. We want things to improve for our people, especially the young people that are coming.
What makes you confident you’re the best person for the job?
One, I live in the community, and I live in the region. At the end of the day, when the legislature is over, I’m not going to be going home to Yellowknife. I’m going to be returning to Behchokǫ̀. I see first-hand what is happening in our community. Because of what’s happening, I know that I’m going to work extra hard because we want things to improve, we want things to get better for our people, for our young people. Especially the young people, there’s a lot of concern regarding things for the young people.
I can speak my language fluently. So I can communicate with the people, with both Tłı̨chǫ and non-Tłı̨chǫ that are living in our region.
And then I have the experience. I am still on the Tłı̨chǫ Community Government and on the other boards. I know how things work, and I know what we need in our region. And I know what the people are saying and asking us to do.
Career-wise, what are you doing now or have done in the past few years?
I started with Chief Jimmy Bruneau residence as a residence manager back in ’94. And from there, I moved into the school as a guidance and career counsellor, and I worked with lots of other young people. I communicated with the parents and the students. And I worked with a lot of young people, encouraging and supporting them, empowering them to continue so that things will get better. If things get better with them, there’s going to be improvement in our community. The social issues will get better in our community, in all the communities, the more young people we have educated or in any trade, whatever they want to do with their life, from trades, to professional, to white collar jobs, all those things.
I have many years of experience. I know what’s going on and I know what’s happening. A lot of good things are still happening, but we need more. Like, if we have a good, strong MLA, there could be more things happening in our region. And just connecting with the people, with the government, here in the four Tłı̨chǫ communities. Tłı̨chǫ communities are the priority and there are a lot of people speaking our Tłı̨chǫ language. I’m going to be reaching out to all the people in my language to let them know what is happening and check in on them.
You said housing one of the most important issues in your riding. What ideas do you have to solve that problem?
We have a lot of housing issues. We shouldn’t even have homelessness. We have a lot of people living in an overcrowded house, we have over 100 people on the waitlist. When there are housing issues, it has an effect. Right now, because of the housing issues, we have social issues. We haven’t had any new housing built in our region for quite some time. And that’s where we’re being left behind. It shouldn’t be like that. We need an MLA that’s actively involved in the community or that works with people and hears their concerns, and that they are being heard and they are being valued.
Can you touch on what some of the social issues are?
There’s family violence, domestic violence. We need a lot of healing. This is from hearing from the people. And we have addiction issues, we have substance abuse, there are drugs coming in. That is a problem in this community, in our region. It’s not just here. I’m sure there is going to be on the all-season road. I hear young people are a little bit concerned about the all-season road. With what’s happening here, I’m sure people in the other communities are a bit worried.
I’m going to be addressing that and dealing with that because we have to think about the future generation. We have young people that are just newborn, what kind of life do we want that newborn to live? In the future, I’m sure we don’t want what’s happening now for them in the future, so we have to fight that. I have to work with the community, with the people, and organizations or governments on how we’re going to deal with it. And I’m sure there’s a strategy that’s already in place by the Tłı̨chǫ Government.
So working collaboratively with organizations that are already doing good work?
Yes, I’m going to be working together with all with the regions, with the people in the regions, with the organizations. And that’s what I’m going to be doing.
Jackson Lafferty, the former MLA, mentioned infrastructure was a big thing he wanted to address. Do you also see that as something major?
Yes, there is some infrastructure in the community that needs improvement. There are a lot of issues that needs to be improved. I can see quite a few of them already in the regions, in the communities. And I will be working with the community government on those issues as well. Because the community government is part of our Tłı̨chǫ agreements, but it’s a public government, so I will be working closely with the community government and Tłı̨chǫ Government on the infrastructure issues as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to encourage people to vote for you?
I have the knowledge, I have other experience, and I care. And I live in my community, I live in my region. I can communicate with the people and I am approachable. If there are any issues, they can call me: my cell phone number, my home phone number, and email address is public information.
At the end of the day, when the legislature is over, I’m not going to be going home to my house in Yellowknife. I’m going to be travelling on the road daily, from Yellowknife to Rae, because I’m not moving anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. I can communicate, talk to the people. That’s why I feel like I am the right choice for the people because I will be their voice on issues.
And housing, I forgot to mention there’s lot of houses that need to be repaired. There’s lots of housing issues. I even went to Wekweètì, even there, there’s housing issues.
The term is for two years to finish up where Jackson’s left off. So housing and social issues will be the two priorities, but all the other issues, those are also going to be addressed to as well. I’m not going to be silent, I’m going to be vocal about lots of things because everybody wants things to get better and we know what’s going on in our community, in our regions. So I’ll be listening, I’ll be talking to people.