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Liidlii Kue First Nation goes to polls
Five candidates vie for the position of chief

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

Liidlii Kue First Nation in Fort Simpson is holding its election for chief and council.

Five candidates are running for the three-year position of chief and 12 people are running for the eight positions on the band council. The election will take place on June 11 in the recreation centre's arena from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Drum contacted the candidates for chief and asked them each a series of questions. Their answers have been condensed below. Minnie Letcher couldn't be reached before the press deadline.

Olinto Beaulieu

Beaulieu said he was inspired to put his name forward for the position of chief because people in the community have been saying the band needs younger members in leadership roles. Beaulieu said he hopes to show the younger generations that they can take the reins and try to change LKFN's path for the better.

Beaulieu has never been the chief or on the band council before, but he said his attributes include being young and energetic and willing to fight for the people and what they want to see done. Beaulieu has worked as a maintenance manager for Parks Canada for the past decade and has also been a village councillor.

Some of the key issues facing LKFN include changes to the environmental act and the availability of funding for the education of the members.

"Educating our people should be a priority because we will never move ahead if we don't educate our people and without our land we are nothing," Beaulieu wrote in an e-mail.

Other issues that Beaulieu feels are important are land management, self-government and employment and training for members. If elected Beaulieu said he would approach the Dehcho Process with an open mind and heart and try to express what the people want from it.

Cheryl Cli

Cli said she has always been motivated to be involved in local politics with the vision of becoming chief.

Cli has served three terms on council beginning in the 1990s. She is currently the Brighter Futures manager at LKFN.

Cli said her assets include being vocal on both local and regional issues and asking questions and being passionate about the land and its protection. As chief, Cli said her priority would be building capacity at LKFN to create sustainable employment for members.

Cli said she would work with the staff at LKFN to find ways to motivate people who aren't fully employed to gain the additional skills they need to achieve gainful employment in both the short and long term. Cli said she wants to talk with people, find out their interests and what can be done to help them.

Other important issues include empowering youth to succeed in education not just in high school, but beyond. She also wants to work with the Fort Simpson Housing Authority to reduce the rent scale for members.

Cli said she also wants to get people talking about solutions for how to ensure the land will be secured for future generations while still making sure resource royalties reach the community.

Cli feels that people aren't fully aware enough of the Dehcho Process. She would like to work with the communications team at Dehcho First Nations to get more information out about it and to gather people's input.

If elected, Cli said she would also work with chiefs from other Deh Cho communities to reach a common ground on the process.

Arnold Hope

Hope said he has always been concerned about the welfare of LKFN. If no one is strong enough to stand up for LKFN's rights, the federal government will continue to erode them, he said.

Hope said he wants to continue the good leadership of the past three years and that a number of band members also asked him to run for the position. Hope, who is semi-retired, said he would bring his years of networking with leaders throughout the territory and the south to the position of chief.

"I want to contribute to the well-being of this community and make sure we go into the future with strength," he said.

Hope said he also has numerous years of experience working with a variety of governments including the territorial government in the area of housing. Hope served one two-year term as an LKFN band councillor in the 1970s.

"The major issue for me is this land is not for sale," he said. "We are willing to share it but it's still ours."

Hope said if he is elected he would let the federal government know the land belongs to the people and they will never let it go. A related issue is ensuring that any resource development on the land benefits LKFN fiscally, economically and with jobs for members.

Looking at the Dehcho Process, Hope said to date it has been a failure because little progress has been made and it isn't allowing LKFN to retain all of its lands and control over them.

Hope said he wants to make sure future generations have the same rights to the land that currently exist.

Keyna Norwegian

"I have a vision and I have a plan of how I would like to see LKFN in the future," said Norwegian.

If elected, Norwegian said she would follow LFKN's mission statement that includes fostering well-educated, self-sufficient members with healthy lifestyles as well as the protection of land and water. Norwegian's previous experience includes being chief for two terms from 2003 to 2009 and serving as a council member and sub-chief from 2000 to 2003.

Norwegian said she would also bring with her the close contacts she has with territorial and federal elected members and senior staff as well as her negotiating skills and sense or honesty, fairness and respect.

Norwegian is currently a board member on the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and works with Dehcho First Nations on protected area strategy initiatives for communities.

Norwegian's key concerns are housing, education and jobs. Norwegian said she would revive a proposal she had developed to use new home construction as a training program for members. She would also reestablish the scholarships and education funds she started while chief. Norwegian said she would also work to create employment opportunities including developing training programs to get members into the LKFN jobs currently filled by non-members.

Norwegian said LKFN members deserve a leader who will work hard, live a healthy lifestyle and look after the best interests of the membership.

Norwegian said she would continue to support the Dehcho Process and visit with all members to update them about the process and seek direction on how LKFN should proceed.

"The people need to know where it is going and what is happening," she said.

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