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Jim Antoine elected chief of Liidlii Kue First Nation

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 18, 2009

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - The members of the Liidlii Kue First Nation have spoken and have returned Jim Antoine to politics with a landslide win.

When the June 12 election closed in Fort Simpson Antoine had handily won with 168 votes. He defeated Keyna Norwegian, his closest opponent, by nearly 100 votes.

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With 168 votes Jim Antoine has been elected chief of Liidlii Kue First Nation. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Norwegian's second place finish with 69 votes signals the end of her six consecutive years as chief of LKFN.

Antoine said he received the news of his election calmly because he was ready to accept either outcome.

"It was the people's decision," Antoine said.

"I feel deeply honoured to be put in this position by the Liidlii Kue people."

Antoine, 59, thanked all of the candidates who ran in the election for both chief and council. In the race for chief other candidates included Arnold Hope with 28 votes, Judy Sabourin with 25 and Lisa Thurber-Tsetso with 20.

"It's a big commitment by anybody that puts their name in to serve other people," he said.

Antoine said he felt sad for Keyna Norwegian but added "people wanted change."

"She put a lot of time and effort into it when she was our chief," he said.

Antoine's no stranger to the position. He held the title from 1974-1977, 1979-1985 and 1989-1991. Antoine had to cut his last term short when he ran and was elected as MLA for Nahendeh. He was the premier from 1998-99 and retired from territorial politics in 2003.

Just days into the job Antoine has already turned his energy to the task ahead.

"There's a lot of work to be done," he said.

On Monday, Antoine met with Mary Tanche-Isaiah, the interim band manager, to check the status of the band's programs and finances. He also held a meeting with the band's staff and with Dennis Nelner, the general manager for Nogha Enterprises Ltd. The first chief and council meeting is scheduled for June 7.

"I feel we should get going right away," Antoine said.

The council needs to deal with some immediate issues including finalizing the 12 voting delegates that LKFN will be sending to the Dehcho First Nations' annual assembly next week. In the long-term, Antoine plans to look at LKFN's business base and its affiliation with the Dehcho First Nations.

"My goal here is to make LKFN a very self-sustaining first nation," he said.

Economic development will alleviate many of the community's social problems, he said. Antoine said he wants all proposed resource development in the band's traditional territory brought before council.

LKFN also needs to assess its affiliation with Dehcho First Nations and how it should be participating in the Dehcho Process, he said.

Through all the decisions Antoine plans to use a traditional approach.

All of the elders and members need to be consulted and provide feedback before decisions are made, Antoine said.

This approach will involve a lot of one-on-one meetings and home visits, he said.

Antoine said these are his personal views and he needs to confer with the band council.

"I'm a team player," he said.

Looking at the new councillors, Antoine said a good group of people has been elected. Many of the major families are represented.

Wesley Hardisty, with 166 votes, led the polls for the council.

This will be Hardisty's first term on council. He said he felt it was time to run in the election.

"It's always been a goal of mine to be on the council," Hardisty said.

Looking at the next three years, Hardisty said he'd like to bring some accountability to the council, the band and its businesses. Hardisty also agrees the Dehcho Process is an important topic.

More information on the direction the negotiations are taking needs to be passed on to the local members, Hardisty said.

The community needs to provide feedback on the key issues before decisions are made, said Hardisty.


Band Council Results

Wesley Hardisty- 166

Steven Jose- 158

Cindy Browning- 147

Rita Cli- 133

Jonas Antoine- 132

Hazel Isiah-Tanche- 125

Betty Hardisty- 115

Phoebe Norwegian- 115