Bill Erasmus re-elected chief of Dene Nation at 45th assembly

Bill Erasmus re-elected chief of Dene Nation at 45th assembly
Dene National Chief candidates Bill Erasmus, left, and Harold Cook at the candidates forum Wednesday, July 22.Photo: Phil Mercredi/Dene Nation.

Bill Erasmus was re-elected national chief of the Dene Nation last week in Deline.

The election took place Wednesday afternoon after an all-candidates forum took up the morning at the 45th Dene National Assembly.

Erasmus beat out sole challenger Harold Cook, receiving 85 votes to Cook’s 43. One of the 129 ballots was counted as spoiled.

The renewed mandate also includes the continued role as regional representative on the Assembly of First Nations.

Erasmus, born in 1954, has been Dene National Chief since 1987, save for a three-year period in 2003-2006 where Noeline Villebrun held the position.

Cook, originally from Fort Good Hope, said he had the backing of the Sahtu chiefs in running. He told the Journal during his campaigning that he wanted the national chief to maintain greater contact with the communities, and to direct a greater focus on quality of life issues like cost of living, addictions, homelessness and the impact of residential schools.

In his speech following the election, Erasmus acknowledged Cook and their long friendship, recognizing that Dene communities want to see more visits from him. He said that will be a priority.

“We need to be organized where chiefs and leaders are being supported,” he said.

Erasmus thanked the chiefs, delegates and proxy voters who participated in the election, and appreciated their vote of confidence.

“The leadership can look forward to continuity, certainty and strong representation for Dene communities,” he said.

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