The former chief of the Smith’s Landing First Nation has been tapped to chair the NWT’s Health and Social Services Leadership Council, with three more nominations pending announcement for the nearly-vacant board.

On Tuesday, the NWT’s Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) announced Gerry Cheezie had been chosen as the new chair of the leadership council, which directs the NWT Health and Social Services Authority and advises the minister of Health and Social Services.

In announcing the appointment, the department cited Cheezie’s “many years experience working with First Nations, Métis councils, community, territorial and federal governments,” as well as work with organizations like the Housing NWT board of directors.

On Friday, Aug. 26, Department of HSS spokesperson Jeremy Bird said Minister Julie Green had chosen four candidates to fill vacancies on the council, and that these candidates would be announced “in the coming days.” With three of these nominations still pending, this means six of the eight seats on the council are currently still vacant, according to the GNWT’s public board appointments website.

A list of previous appointments shows seven former members whose terms expired at the beginning of this month, including former chairperson Jim Antoine. The only person currently listed as a member is Phyllis Mawdsley, the chair of the Fort Smith Regional Wellness Council, who was appointed in 2021. Her term expires in 2024.

Bird added that a call for nominations was issued in May and was extended until July 14.

“The call for nominations will remain open until suitable candidates have been identified to fill the remaining two vacancies on the council,” he said. “There were more vacant positions on the leadership council at the end of July of this year than in the past because some of the previous members of the council had reached their maximum of six consecutive years of service.”

According to the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, the leadership council is meant to comprise a chairperson, the chairs of regional councils, the chair of the Tlicho Community Services Agency and the deputy minister of Health and Social Service (HSS). All but the deputy minister are meant to be appointed by the minister of HSS. Once appointed, each member serves a term of no more than three years.

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