NNSL Photo/Graphic

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Duane Smith elected chairperson at Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
Questions raised over voting process

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Duane Smith, longtime chairperson of the Inuvik Community Corporation and former vice-chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, has been elected the new chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

NNSL photo/graphic

Duane Smith was been elected the new chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, succeeding Nellie Cournoyea in the position, following an election among community corporations on Jan. 25. - NNSL file photo

Smith beat out Vernon Amos of Sachs Harbour, Jackie Jacobson and Vince Teddy of Tuktoyaktuk, and Richard McLeod of Inuvik for the spot, taking a total of 23 of the 42 votes by directors of community corporations on Jan. 25. Amos came in second with 13 votes, while Jacobson garnered five and Teddy and McLeod received only one and zero, respectively.

Smith was travelling and unable to comment before press time but in a previous interview, he told the Drum he would rely on his experience as ICC chairperson and vice chairperson at the IRC for familiarity with many files, as well as his experience representing the Inuvialuit at regional, national and international levels. Smith is also the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.

He said one of his top priorities would be to increase education opportunities for Inuvialuit across the settlement region.

There were, however, other election issues that have yet to be resolved.

Several candidates spoke about transparency and wanting to increase it within the organization as well as in its dealings with the public.

Beneficiaries took to social media to protest the practise of having only the 42 directors of the collective community corporations vote for a new leader. While those directors in turn are elected by the community corporation members, some concerns remain over the fairness of the process.

Outside a meeting meant to introduce the candidates to the public, beneficiary Crystal Lennie told media she thinks every Inuvialuit should have the right to vote for their new chairperson.

"It's such an important position within the land claim," she said.

"Including people living outside the Inuvialuit Settlement Region . I definitely think people can determine who can run a business."

While she credited nine-term chairperson Nellie Cournoyea with a lot of good and important work, she also said she would like to see future chairpersons limited to two terms to make it more fair.

Attendees at a so-called public meeting for people to meet the candidates Jan. 21 at the Inuvik Community Corporation office voted to not allow reporters from the Drum and CBC North to stay.

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