More than just council candidates came out to participate in the all candidates forum last week as school board trustee candidates Lucille Duncan and Alexandra Luggi both made appearances to appeal for the towns vote.
Taking place at Music Makers Hall in downtown Fort St. James, Luggi and Duncan both outlined their platforms with introductory two-minute speeches followed by taking part in the question and answer period along with the candidates running for municipal council.
Luggi, who hails from Nak’azdli First Nation, and Duncan, from Tl’azt’en First Nation, both presented strong and thoughtful speeches but Duncan’s opening remarks were stronger and more concise than that of Luggi’s. Duncan spoke to the need to take a more holistic approach to schooling and wishing to be an effective member of the school board to bring about those kinds of changes. Luggi’s opening speech outlined her academic achievements and history in the town of Fort St. James with less of a concrete platform to present than Duncan’s.
However, the playing field was levelled during the question and answer period as Luggi’s jitters wore off and the candidate came into her own during question and answer period.
Both candidates were subject to difficult questions including questions dealing with topics like drug and alcohol abuse and LGBTQ rights and awareness within School District 91.
When asked about drug and alcohol abuse among Fort St. James’ youth and adult population Luggi responded that the creation of a peer-support program in schools have proven to be effective in helping to curb drug abuse levels and help recovery in youth. Additionally Luggi outlined that more youth oriented activities and programs would also be helpful.
Duncan recognized that drug and alcohol abuse have been ongoing problem throughout the area and suggested that proper education and awareness need to begin in the schools with teachers and counsellors reaching out to students. Duncan also recognized that there are underlying causes for drug and alcohol abuse including family and self esteem issues that could be addressed through the school system.
Both candidates were asked whether, given the chance to serve as trustee, they would move to join the other 37 school districts that have passed a pro-LGBTQ policy in their schools to which Duncan said that she would be in support of such a policy saying that “we are all equal” and that her culture “respects the two-feathered people.”
Candidate Luggi held the same position on the matter saying that it is “important that we show kids at a young age that we are all equal.”
In totality, both candidates presented a strong presence at the forum with Duncan appearing to be the more organized of the two but Luggi appearing to be the more passionate and insightful candidate.
Voting for School Board Trustee for electoral area 6, which encompasses Fort St. James, Manson Creek, Germanson and Takla Landings will take place on Nov. 15 with voting stations available at the Fort St. James District Office, Kwah Hall on Nak’azdli Reserve and Germanson Mercantile in Germanson Landing.