The three candidates for Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief on Friday each set out why they believe they should be elected to the position on September 30.
Eddie Erasmus, Jackson Lafferty, and George Mackenzie were nominated at the Tłı̨chǫ Assembly on Friday. Mackenzie is the incumbent, Lafferty is the former Monfwi MLA, and Erasmus is a former grand chief.
Following their nomination, each received 15 minutes to address electors about how they envisage doing the job for the next four years.
Below, Cabin Radio has reproduced excerpts of the candidates’ statements during English-language portions of their speeches.
Eddie Erasmus: 5:32:54 to 5:47:55 Jackson Lafferty: 5:48:59 to 6:04:06 George Mackenzie: 6:05:14 to 6:20:50
Mail-in ballots can be requested from September 1. On September 10, mobile polls will be sent to Stanton Territorial Hospital, the North Slave Correctional Complex, Vital Abel boarding home, Jimmy Erasmus seniors’ home, and the homes of Elders and others physically unable to attend a polling station.
Advance polls open on September 17 at Behchokǫ̀’s Kǫ̀ Gocho Centre arena, Gamètì’s community hall, Whatì’s cultural centre, Wekweètì’s council chambers, and the Yellowknife office of the registrar in the lower level of Centre Square Mall. You can also vote at that office from September 13-16.
Polling day is September 30.
“I know the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement, and I know the Tłı̨chǫ Constitution, and I know the governance. I have worked for many years in Tłı̨chǫ government, Indigenous government.
“If we want to take on these programs and services, like for example education, we need more funding. The way it is run now, if the funding is not adequate, it’s going to fall apart.
“We need to start talking about that side agreement that we call the intergovernmental services agreement, where we can start taking on more services and programs. We can’t have intergovernment running it for us forever. It’s going to take another set of negotiations.
“It might take 80 years to implement all of it. And that’s where the young generation has to learn about the system, the way Tłı̨chǫ government and Indigenous government works.
“We have to be unified. All of the chiefs have got to work together. We have to create jobs. We don’t have any development on Tłı̨chǫ lands right now. To create jobs, we need to build a mine on Tłı̨chǫ land where we can have jobs for our people. We can even own that mine.
“Our Elders have said that before. Right now, where our young people are working today, those mines are not going to last forever. They’ll be depleted, eventually shut down. Where are our people who are working there going to go?”
“The most vulnerable people, we should put them up front. We should be focusing on them. Those are the individuals that came out for me.
“Some have said, ‘Elected officials don’t listen to us.’ I’ll continue to push for the most vulnerable people.
“We hear the same issues almost every year. A lot of people are asking why the initiatives we raise aren’t moving anywhere.
“Issues such as housing – housing is a big issue for our region. Addiction, we see addiction every day. We see and hear about people going on the barren lands, restricted from caribou hunting. All these areas of concern. Even a young individual brought up the business incentive program, we don’t see much of that in our region.
“It’s time that we started listening to our people, raising these issues, and following up as we should. We have regional meetings. We should give updates to our Tłı̨chǫ people in every community of where we are, decisions we have made.
“Now is the time to address those issues.”
“Across the NWT and Canada, the Tłı̨chǫ are well-respected and influential. We did this by building strong relationships, by strengthening our own government structure and programs from within.
“I have to say this. It’s personal, but I have to say it. In Ottawa, the coalitions of government want a spokesman to speak on behalf of the self-government groups across Canada. I was chosen to be the spokesman for all of Canada.
“That’s the kind of relationship I built over the years as your grand chief. I built positive relationships with the GNWT, the premier, the ministers, the Aboriginal MLAs.
“All the accomplishments, we did it as a team. I challenged myself: I am going to make it work. Build a team. And we’ve done that. I’m so proud of it.
“How can anybody say George doesn’t stand for unity? I heard that in a workshop. I pull people together. Now, I’m going to challenge myself again. I’m going to work for another four years. We’re going to make it work. That’s why I came back. I call it unfinished business.