Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Richard Edjericon says recent criticisms directed at him regarding money owing on a mortgage debt with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation are unfair and don’t capture the full context of the situation.
Edjericon was sworn in as MLA on Feb. 21 following a byelection to fill Steve Norn’s seat. The new MLA almost immediately faced criticism in the media relating to $113,000 outstanding on his housing corporation mortgage.
But in a March 17 news release shared with News/North, Edjericon said the amount owed stems from a personal mortgage on a home in Dettah that he shared with his late ex-wife.
She passed away in September 2019 and since that time, as her executor, he said he has been attempting to resolve the debt with the housing corporation, as per her wishes.
“I felt it was important to clarify the facts so as not to mislead the public or my constituents, but also to put an end to misinformation and political weaponization,” Edjericon stated.
He said before running in the byelection, he attempted to reach Eleanor Young, president of the NWT Housing Corporation, by email on Dec. 2 and Dec. 8.
“I basically wanted to let (Young) know that we have a debt and I’m here to honour my ex-wife’s wish to pay it off,” Edjericon said, adding it’s important in Indigenous culture not to leave debts behind after passing away.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to do was pay that off and so that the issue is resolved and that’s it.”
He added that he also tried to meet Young in person at the housing corporation’s head office in Yellowknife on Dec 7, however she was unavailable that day.
“As of today’s date (March 17), I have received no written response from Ms. Eleanor Young, president NWT Housing Corporation, nor anyone representing the housing corporation in order to resolve this issue,” he said.
Edjericon said that he has been disappointed with the reaction he has received, especially as he has been stressed in his personal life with the passing of father last year, as well. He is working on settling that estate too, he said.
“It’s funny that this whole thing came out a day after I was sworn in, but to research that information, somebody would have had to have been tipped off and I find it kind of malicious,” he said. “I’m not really happy with that as a way, probably, to try to discredit me.”
Edjericon said he has hired a lawyer to help resolve the issue with the housing corporation.
He also appealed to David Jones, ethics commissioner of the NWT, to review the amount owed immediately after being elected.
“Mr. Jones said this matter is being resolved between two parties and is not an issue for the ethics commissioner,” Edjericon stated.
Smith’s Landing Chief Gerry Cheezie told News North recently that he was displeased with how Edjericon was represented in the media.
Of greater concern in the NWT is the long list of residents overall who owe the housing corporation money, not only for rent or public housing but with home-ownership programs.
“I was kind of upset when I saw the CBC news article focusing on Richard Edjericon and Rocky Simpson because if you were to research and publish the names of all the people that owe the NWT Housing Corporation money, you’re looking at hundreds of people,” he said. “Every community in every region of the NWT have people who owe the housing corporation money.”
NNSL Media left a message with Northwest Territories Housing Corporation on March 17 but there was no immediate response.