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Wrigley elects female leader
Chief and all but one councillor for Pehdzeh Ki First Nation are women

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 1, 2013

Female leaders have been brought to the forefront in Wrigley.

NNSL photo/graphic

Newly-elected Pehdzeh Ki First Nation Chief Sharon Pellissey says stabilizing the First Nation and the community are the first orders of business. - photo courtesy of Sharon Pellissey

Sharon Pellissey was elected chief of Pehdzeh Ki First Nation on July 24. Pellissey received 41 votes, 26 more than her closest competitor, Joseph Lloyd Moses. David Moses also ran.

Pellissey will be joined by a six-person band council, five of whom are women. The council includes Mary Clillie, Elsie Hardisty, Gloria Hardisty, Gaylene Moses, Lisa Moses and Michael Pellissey. The councillor positioned were filled by acclamation.

"It should be interesting," said Pellissey about the almost all-female leadership. "It may work well. I believe women in the community know the home life and know the ins and outs of the community. I believe they have a lot to share."

Pellissey said Michael is also a good addition to the council because he examines all points of view on an issue before making a decision.

Pellissey is looking forward to the first council meeting on Aug. 8 to see what the new leadership can accomplish together.

It has been approximately 20 years since Wrigley last had a female chief. Pellissey has never been a chief or a band councillor, but she does bring a wealth of experience.

Pellissey has been working for Pehdzeh Ki First Nation for approximately 18 years, although not continuously. Her positions have included senior administrative officer, protected areas strategy co-ordinator, communications co-ordinator, lands officer and contracts officer with the band's economic arm.

"I'm well suited for this position, I think," she said.

"I know the organization's running in and out."

Pellissey said she's also very familiar with how the leadership has run in the past, and what has and hasn't been successful. The first orders of business over the next few weeks and months will be stabilizing the First Nation and the community, she said.

The band's finances have to be stabilized, personnel have to be hired and programs have to begin running again, she said. The priority is to get people employed and working for the community, said Pellissey.

Stabilizing the community will involve improving the lines of communications between the chief, band council and community members, she said. Information needs to be disseminated to the band members so they can make comments and direct the leadership on how to proceed.

One of the issues that Pellissey wants to revisit is Pehdzeh Ki First Nation's involvement in the Dehcho Process. The previous leadership drew the band away from the process last year, but Pellissey said not all of the membership were consulted about the move. She wants to poll the membership to find out what they want to do.

Members also have to be involved in creating plans for the community, because only they know the issues Wrigley is facing, she said. Pellissey said her leadership style involves taking direction from members.

"Leaders are people who work together with others to build a better community," she said.

To facilitate that process, Pellissey said the council will also be taking workshops to help them work together and with the community, as well as learn about their roles and responsibilities. The council will be serving a two-year term while Pellissey will be serving for three years.

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