Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Tuesday July 14 2015 7 POLITICS FIRST NATIONS For more information contact the RCC at 867 872-4REC Thank you to the sponsors volunteers and staff who made the day a success. Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy Canada Day in Fort Smith Dene Nation election two running for national chief By MEAGAN WOHLBERG Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus is hop- ing chiefs at the organizations upcoming na- tional assembly in Deline next week vote him in for another term but this time he wont be going unchallenged. Harold Cook originally of Fort Good Hope and now living in Yellowknife says its time for a change of leadership in the political or- ganization charged with representing Dene First Nations in Treaty 8 and 11. Cook a 65-year-old former Crown Witness Coordinator with the federal department of Justice who served as victim services coor- dinator during the Grollier Hall residential school trial said he has the support of the Sahtu chiefs behind his nomination. Theres no way I would do it without their support he told the Journal. Though Cook was late to put in his nomi- nation he said he was waiting to see if young leadership hopefuls Lawrence Nayally and Kiera Kolson were planning to run. Both de- cided to hold off this time around. If there were some younger people that were going to run then I was not going to run I would have come out in support of them our young people Cook said. Cook is the only one running against Eras- mus who has been national chief since 1987. Erasmus said he was compelled to run again in order to complete a number of unnished tasks with what he hopes will be a new fed- eral government in the fall. There are so many issues that need to be addressed that the Dene Nation has been mandated to complete through our mo- tions and meetings and a lot of those issues are still outstanding and need to be accom- plished Erasmus said. So I feel my job is not done yet. The Journal chatted with both candidates to discuss their priorities for the Dene Nation. Bill Erasmus Theissuesoflandrightsandselfgovernance continuetobeofkeyimportancetoFirstNations in Denendeh according to Erasmus. They are he says the political realities that our people havealwaysbeentalkingabout.Itsthoseissues that Erasmus has dedicated much of his life to since rst being elected as national chief and a memberoftheAssemblyofFirstNationsexecu- tivein1987andyetheknowstheyarestilltobe resolved. Changing that is his priority. Even though we won a court case many years ago in the 70s regarding our lands and ourrightswestillarenotgoverningourselves hesaid.WhiletheTlichoandthecommunityof Deline now have their self-government agree- ments in place the vast majority of our com- munities are still not recognized as govern- mentsthathavelegitimatelegislativeauthority. To me we really need to focus on that and speed up the process and we need to have all of our communities governing themselves. Thats been a challenge thus far said Eras- mus partly due to a federal government that has been unfriendly to First Nations. Weve managed to keep moving forward but its been very limited. So I think with a new government in place it will make a dif- ference he said. That has certainly been the case with the newly elected Alberta NDP government he said which has begun work toward imple- menting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ErasmussaidtheDeneNationwillneedtotake advantageofthesepossiblealliancestoadvance work on climate change and environmental is- sueslikewatercontamination.Thoseissuesare going to be main topics of discussion at the up- coming annual meetings in Deline July 21-24. Thatmeansourrightsandtreatiesarefront and centre and its incumbent upon us now to work with that government because the water owsnorthwardandwerepartofthesamewater basin. They have to work with us on the issues that affect us he said. If we lead in that area I think thats really something that can inu- ence the rest of the country. Along with his responsibilities to the AFN Erasmus has also held the chair of the Chiefs Committee on Environment and vice-chair to the Finance Committee and Intergovernmen- tal and International Relations. He currently chairs the Centre for Nutrition and Environ- mentofIndigenousPeoplesatMcGillUniversity. Harold Cook For Cook the issues of social and cultural wellbeing dominate his priorities for the Dene Nation starting with re-strengthening the ties between First Nations in Denendeh. I want to see more communication be- tween the national ofce and the people at the communitylevelandIwanttoseethenational chiefgotothecommunitycouncilmeetingsand the regional meetings he said. On a national level Cook wants to see the DeneNationaddresshighfoodcostsandprob- lemswiththefederalNutritionNorthprogram andtoworkonaddressingissuesmostaffecting indigenouswomen.Hedliketoseeatreatment program re-established in the NWT. I see it all the time where I worked before batteredwomenssyndromeourmissingwomen our women that are going through spousal as- sault all due to alcohol - alcohol-related and inter-generationaltrauma-thestuffthatchil- dren see that is passed on he said. Though clearly invested in addressing social ills Cook said he has extensive political expe- rience as well. He formerly sat on the board of the Sahtu Secretariat Inc. was a band council- lor in Inuvik and Fort Good Hope and was vice president for the Sahtu Mtis Association dur- ing the land claim negotiations. Like Erasmus he said water contamination is of serious concern to him. PeopleinGoodHopearedyingofcancerand itonlystartedinmywayofthinkingwhenthe islands were built in Norman Wells he said. Healsositsontheboardsofvarioussporting organizations - the Aboriginal Sports Circle the North American Indigenous Games and Sport North - in order to support opportu- nities for youth. Proudly sober for 38 years Cook said his experience living as an addict on the streets gives him a unique perspective on what people in the North continue to experience. When I was doing land claims negotia- tions some of the leaders were drinking they couldnt focus they sometimes fell asleep dur- ing negotiations. I dont blame them at all because the stuff from residential schools did that to them - the direct result of residential schools he reected. To me sobriety is really important be- cause this way I can focus and I can concen- trate from the ground level up because re- member I was on the streets for four years. I know what its like to be on the streets. The election for Dene National Chief will follow an all candidates forum at the Dene National Assembly in Deline on the morning of Wednesday July 22. Results are scheduled to be in by 230 that afternoon. PhotocourtesyofDeneNationPhotocourtesyofHaroldCook