Jane Weyallon Armstrong has been elected as the new MLA for Monfwi, the legislative assembly said in a news release July 28.
Armstrong will be sworn in on Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. in the chamber of the legislative assembly.
“I feel very grateful and humble, I keep getting phone calls from people congratulating me,” she said over the phone from her home in Behchokǫ̀. “I want to say thank you to everybody, to the people who supported me and to those who didn’t support me. I’m here to work for them.”
Her election as MLA makes her the 10th woman member of the 19-member legislative assembly, a government that had already made history in the 2019 election for having five women in cabinet, including Premier Caroline Cochrane.
“It’s wonderful,” said Armstrong. “I know a lot of people (in the Tłı̨chǫ region) have said before that we need a woman elected. But when I submitted my name I wasn’t thinking about the gender. I put my name forward to do good for my region.”
Armstrong has served as president of the Native Women’s Association of the NWT for the last six years, and on June 14 she was re-elected to her third four-year term as councillor in the Behchokǫ̀ community government.
She was also an assembly member of the Tłı̨chǫ Government for one term — from 2009 to 2013 — and has spent almost 30 years working for the GNWT in various roles, including as a guidance counsellor for students in Tłı̨chǫ communities.
While official results from the by-election have yet to tallied, unofficial results on the Elections NWT portal show Armstrong received 503 votes, coming ahead of Kelvin Kotchilea who garnered 252 votes and John Gon who received 98 votes. James Wah-Shee, who served as an MLA from 1979 to 1987 received 71 votes.
Armstrong said she plans to continue living in Behchokǫ̀ even after the fall session of the legislative assembly starts on Oct. 14 and won’t move to Yellowknife.
“I’ll go back and forth daily. This is my home. This is where my family and friends are and the people I’ll be serving,” she said.
One of her first tasks as MLA will be to visit the other Tłı̨chǫ communities of Gamèti, Wekweèti and Whati to meet with local governments and people.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Frederick Blake Jr. said he is pleased to welcome the MLA-elect to the assembly and looks forward to working with her.
“Mahsì to all candidates for putting their names forward and participating in the democratic process,” he said.
The Monfwi by-election was called to fill the seat vacated by Jackson Lafferty on June 4.
The Monfwi constituency is made up of the four Tłı̨chǫ communities of Behchokǫ̀, Gamèti, Wekweèti and Whati.