Ten candidates running for four spots on the Nak’azdli Band Council came out to speak and answer questions at the all candidates forum in Kwah Hall.
While one candidate showed up only to decline the nomination, five other candidates did not make it to the forum.
Fellow candidate Anne Sam did defend the absence of Peter Erickson, who she said was committed to the community but was out on his family’s keyoh, and would not have missed it for anything else. She urged those present to keep an open mind to the absent candidates, given the timing of the forum, which was later than usual. The forum fell when many families go out onto traditional keyoh territories to take part in a summer harvest.
The candidates present each made a speech and then the floor opened up to questions from the audience.
Candidate Kenny Sam made a passionate appeal in his speech regarding land rights.
“That’s our land and we have to fight for it,” he said.
Harold Prince, former councillor and former chief spoke passionately about education. He spoke partly in Dakelh (Carrier), and then announced he has made the commitment to be alcohol and drug free.
Tim Erickson also spoke strongly about alcohol and drug use, saying his priorities are education and housing. He challenged his fellow candidates to set an example for the community by leading a healthy lifestyle.
“We have to, as a generation, start making our footprints out there.”
The focus of many of the questions was on education, youth and culture, especially language.
Anne Sam spoke about getting the community engaged and informing them about education so people can have a say and so their children can succeed in the system.
The approach suggested by Rosemarie Sam to empower the youth was to encourage them to get engaged in the issues, and to educate young people on their rights so they can be proactive.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway proposed pipeline was also raised as an issue for the community, with Anne Sam explaining the role she has been playing in working on the Headwaters Initiative, which opposes the pipeline.
“We’re working with other First Nations to gather support and say ‘no’ to Enbridge,” said Anne Sam.
Kenny Sam is part of a registered intervenor group in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel process. He said he will be opposing the pipeline, which would cross his keyoh, through this process.
Most of the candidates present also brought forward ideas for helping to preserve the language.
The candidates are running for four council member openings, each of which would be for a two-year term.
There are a total of eight council members and one chief on the Nak’azdli Band Council.
The election will beheld on August 18.