Four candidates for chief speak in their own words

Four candidates for chief speak in their own words
Top: Roxanne Marcel and Edward Courtoreille; Bottom: Steve Courtoreille and Russell Kaskamin.

Four candidates for chief speak in their own words

Edward Courtoreille

In the past, he has worked as an employment counsellor and for fifteen years provided family and youth counselling in Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray. An entrepreneur, he started up a tour guide company that continues to operate.

Why are you running?

“It’s time for a change. We need to unify our community. We are separated into different groups. As long as we’re not working as a nation, we’ll never achieve our objectives in business or in dealing with all levels of government. We’ve got to be able to bring all members to the table so they can have an input on the positive changes we need and what direction our nation should go. We need an open government that is going to listen to the concerns of our members. I also want to run because over the years I heard concerns from our members about the structure of our government. I’m at an age that it’s time for me to go back and give back to the nation that made me who I am.”

What are your priorities if elected?

“Making the Mikisew nation politically and financially accountable to its members. We need to set a plan to do quarterly public meetings, reports to the shareholders and maintain an open door policy. As a government we also have to take direction from our membership. One way is to relocate the band office which is five kilometres from town and bring it back to where its accessible to the community.”

What would you like to change?

“We have to change the whole concept of being divided and we have to change this so we can work together and respect each other. Respect is big among our first nation. The stronger we are as a nation then we can challenge whoever we have to challenge. We can’t stop major projects that need to be stopped if we’re speaking as little groups. We have to strengthen ourselves with education about what is happening in this area, whether it’s the environment or health.”

What qualities would you bring to the position of chief?

“I can bring strong leadership skills. I’m a well-connected person that has connections in industry, government, professional sports and the aboriginal world. I’ve always kept a positive attitude and no matter what happens, I achieve the goals I’ve set.”

Steve Courtoreille

Served on Mikisew Council for a total of 11 years and has also worked as a recreation director with youth and with elders in Fort Chipewyan.

Why are you running?

“I feel I’m able to help our first nation to move forward in areas that we may have neglected in our home community. We’re a strong nation that took pride in what we can do for our people in terms of healing and wellness. We haven’t done a lot to educate youth and general public about residential schools so that we can break the cycle of abuse that may be going on behind closed doors. There ares so many social issues we have in our community with young people getting into trouble with the law. There are no proper programs to assist and support our youth.”

What are your priorities if elected?

“I’m a strong supporter of looking after our home base, our people and our youth. Other priorities for me are areas that Mikisew have such as our businesses. Housing is also one of my priorities and we’re still enforcing outdated policies from the days of the Indian agent. The impact to our environment that’s destroying everything we used to depend on and survive on so now there’s not really a lot for our people to depend on when they go out into the bush like drinking water.”

What would you like to change?

“If we maintain the status quo the way things are going I see our first nation losing a lot of ground in areas where we’ve taken pride such as in our businesses. Our airline company is no longer operating. I’m not going to look for negativity. All I want to do is move forward in a positive way. If elected as chief, I want to surround myself with people who would help me in that process and set a plan for going ahead in the future three years and beyond. I want to re-energize our people. The energy is there we just have to direct it in a positive way.”

What qualities would you bring to the position of chief?

“I believe I can lead by example. I’ve been sober for 20 years and I’ve really worked on my own healing journey. I believe the youth are the ones who are going to lead us into the future with their ambition, education and energy. My strengths are working with people and also encouraging our people. We need to take pride in them when they accomplish something even if it’s only a minor thing, it is always a success story.”

Russell Kaskamin

Currently a councillor for the Mikisew Cree Nation. Mr. Kaskamin declined to be interviewed stating, “everything people need to know about why I’m running will be found [in my advertisement] in the paper (page 13).”

Roxanne Marcel

Currently chief, she is running for a third term. In the past, she has also chaired the Nunee Health Authority.

Why are you running?

“As a Mikisew Cree member, I am dedicated to continue leading the First Nation into more successful governance for another term of three years. Continuity of leadership is very important.”

What are your priorities if elected?

“My first priority has always been the well-being of the Mikisew Cree First Nation members and going forward I will continue to keep the members interests as my main focus.”

What would you like to change?

“I believe we need to revisit the direction we are going in and with a election there will be a need for a strategic workshop to see what areas we need to focus on and where changes need to occur.”

What qualities would you bring to the position of chief?

“I completed two terms, six years in total of a very successful governance of the First Nation. I am committed to ensuring the effective leadership and governance of the First Nation whether it’s: housing, education, social programming, economic development, protection of the environment or settlement of our outstanding legal issues like the Treaty Land Entitlement.”

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