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Three vie for chief in Fort ProvidenceDeh Gah Got'ie First Nation goes to the polls Sept. 15
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Three people are vying for the position of chief and an additional 15 people are seeking one of seven seats on the band council. Two of the candidates for chief have previous experience in the role. Incumbent Joachim Bonnetrouge is seeking election for a second term and Greg Nyuli served as chief in the late 1990s.
Five of the members of the last band council are also seeking re-election. They have been joined by 10 other candidates.
Advance polls will take place in the community today from noon to 6 p.m. in the community hall. Election day is Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the hall.
Bonnetrouge is seeking re-election for a second term. He was last elected in June 2009.
Prior to his election, Bonnetrouge was working as the project co-ordinator for the Fort Providence Residential School Society.
Bonnetrouge also had previous experience as chief, having served for more than four terms between 1976 and 1991. During the last election, Bonnetrouge said the most important issue for the band was the members' desire for more accountability, reports and community meetings.
Bonnetrouge is currently participating in Deh Gah School's language immersion camp at Willow Lake until Oct. 6. As a result, he couldn't be reached for comment.
Nyuli served as chief of Deh Gah Got'ie First Nation in the late 1990s. He also worked as the band manager for a time and was the part-time co-ordinator for the band when it hosted the Dene National assembly this summer.
Nyuli is currently the executive director of the Zhahti Koe Friendship Centre.
Nyuli is away from the community until Sept. 12 and despite repeated attempts, couldn't be reached for comment by press time.
Sabourin has never served as chief or as a band councillor for Deh Gah Got'ie First Nation.
Sabourin said he decided to run for the position of chief after much deliberation because he had concerns for the community and about the band's leadership. Sabourin said he was approached by residents who talked about the need for change at the band.
"I've got some good leadership skills," he said.
"I think people will look me in the eye and say 'maybe this guy can lead.'"
Sabourin said he has been keeping tabs on the band's previous leadership and also on other chiefs in the Deh Cho region, observing how they lead their communities. Sabourin has also been closely following devolution and the Dehcho Process.
"It's a process we all have to look at very carefully," he said.
Sabourin said he thinks there will be a few more years of negotiations on lands and resources under the Dehcho Process before other agendas can be examined.
Looking at Fort Providence, Sabourin said the housing situation is the primary issue in the community.
"It's really bad," he said.
If elected, Sabourin said he would work with the territorial government to resolve the issue. Because housing is a problem across the North, Sabourin said he would consult with other leaders and residents in other communities to get their perspectives on what can be done.
Other issues in Fort Providence that need to be addressed include the creation of long-term employment for band members and keeping youth in school and out of trouble, said Sabourin.