The Town of Fort Smith election has two candidates running for the mayor position to succeed Lynn Napier. They are last term-councillor Jessica Cox and Fred Daniels.

There are also 14 candidates running for council and they are Louise Beaulieu, Kevin Campbell, Don Jaque, Jay MacDonald, Michael Couvrette, Dana Fergusson, Kevin Heron, Al Karasiuk, Dianna Korol, Lynn Napier, Ann Pischinger, Athena Sharp, Kevin Smith and Leonard Tuckey.

All candidates for district educaton authority have been acclaimed and they include Laura Aubrey, Rebecca Cabell, Hilary Turko, and Roger Vail.

The election will take place on Oct. 18 with the advance poll happening on Oct. 7.

Candidates that News North have been able to compile by deadline are listed below. Other candidates will be included in next week’s addition and on our website.


Jessica Cox

Age: 43

Family status: Married with two kids

Time in Fort Smith: 21 years

Experience related to to the job:I was elected to council in 2018 and I am an active member of the following town council committees: Communications Committee, Bylaw Review Committee, Community Services Advisory Board, Community and Recreation Centre Steering Committee.

I have experience volunteering withFort Smith Minor Hockey, Fort Smith Animal Society, 2018 Arctic Winter Games Host Society, Recreation Advisory Board, Fort Smith District Education Authority, Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre and Fort Smith Volunteer Fire Department.

Why are you running?

I’m running for Mayor for the privilege of representing Fort Smith as an official spokesperson. I have the experience and I will work for the whole community. I will work with Council to continue making Fort Smith the best community to live and work and visit. I am a fierce advocate for the community, and will work with other local leaders to present a united voice for Fort Smith.

I will be accessible and responsive to all community members and continue to improve communication. Communication is not just information-sharing with posts to social media; meaningful communication means dialogue. Talking with residents about issues and getting their feedback. In addition to better communication, as Mayor I will work with other local leaders to advocate for the community with a united voice.

The Mayor works with Council to determine goals and priorities for the Town and takes direction from Council. I will advocate for consistent bylaw enforcement, including animal control, traffic, and unsightly lands. I will also advocate to support and promote active transport in the community. Also, the Town needs a new protective services building for fire and ambulance.

Biggest challenges facing the community?

There are many challenges. The tax-based communities in the NWT are chronically underfunded by MACA, which makes replacing capital infrastructure like the fire hall and funding upgrades to the water treatment plant very challenging. Specific to Fort Smith, slope stabilization and the decisions about how to proceed is an immediate issue that has the potential to affect the whole community. The banks of the Slave River are slumping and there is concern the slumping will affect community infrastructure more than it already has if action is not taken soon.

Town council

Athena Sharp

Age: 21 years old Inuit female

Family status: Not provided

Time in Fort Smith: 10+ years.

Experience relevant to the job:

Helping others succeed has always been a passion of mine and this lead me to work at the Fort Smith correctional complex as a corrections officer, helping to rehabilitate offenders. I also worked for a non profit organization, FOXY. There I helped spread awareness to youth across the North about mental & sexual health, body positivity & healthy relationships. I spent a quarter of a year in Peru helping teach English, building kitchens for the less fortunate and creating community gardens that are accessible and free to Peruvian families.

Why are you running?

I feel that our community would greatly benefit from a strong young adult councillor to represent them, I bring with me a different perspective and also hope to inspire people my age to take part in the decisions that are made within our beloved community. Once on council I will be lobbying for more affordable housing and continuing to improve community communication with all residents of Fort Smith. I promise to attend local youth night at our recreation centre at least once a month to hear concerns from youth. Growing up I always felt like my voice wasn’t heard or cared about by adults in leadership roles in our community, I vow to work to change this if elected.

Biggest challenges facing the community? I believe one of our biggest challenges of our community and the North is housing, we need to work together with local indigenous governments to improve the housing crisis. I strongly believe that if elected to council young adults will be more inclined to share their concerns with community leaders if a young adult is on council to provide guidance.

Don Jaque

Age: 72

Experience related to the job: I am a journalist and editor and have had businesses in Thebacha/Fort Smith and Yellownife, including a newspaper, computer stores and Internet services.

Biggest challenges facing the community? The greatest challenge facing Fort Smith is the loss of economy and autonomy from the centralization of services and authority into Yellowknife.

Louise Beaulieu

Age: 62

Family status: single mother of three adult kids.

Time in Fort Smith: Born and raised in the community.

Experience related to the job: I have worked throughout the community—in forestry as a crew boss and fire boss. I have also worked as a Canadian Ranger Sergeant-Leader and organizer for Citizen on Patrol.

I was a previous town councillor, a traditional-cultural teacher, hunter/trapper, crisis shelter worker and an advocate for the community and its people.

Why are you running?

I’m hoping to seek a second term as councillor, to keep moving forward with what was started in my first term to better build our community and move forward on issues that were on hold due to the pandemic and be an advocate for the community and its people.

Biggest challenges facing the community? Dealing and figuring out how to move forward with this pandemic that has set the community back by a couple years.

Jay MacDonald

Age: 57 years old

Family status: I am an Indigenous Métis married with three adult children and one grandchild.

Time in Fort Smith: I was born in Hay River and moved to Fort Smith in 1970.

Experience related to the job: I am the Manager of Forest Management Services with the department of Environment and Natural Resources. Prior to joining ENR, I worked as a House Parent, Program Coordinator with the Western Arctic Leadership Program and ran a Small Engine repair business. My background and work history include extensive experience in logistics, capital project and facility management. I am a certified Journey person Small Motor Technician with 25 years of business management experience. I have a long history working and volunteering in the community. I am known for my work ethic and dedication I bring to the organizations I take part in.

I’ve also been a board member and chair of NWT Apprenticeship and Occupational Certification Board for 10 years, member of the Fort Smith District Education Authority for six years, president and board member of the Fort Smith Minor Hockey for 14 years and a House Parent and Program Coordinator for the Western Arctic Leadership program for 12 years. I’ve been a private business owner for 10 years.

Why are you running?

As a lifelong resident of Fort Smith I am committed to improving the lives of the residents of Fort Smith, through open communication with community members, and by working closely with all community leaders and organizations.

I am committed to improving communication with the community. This is a common concern I have been hearing from community members. You hear the word transparency used a lot these days but without good two way communication it is just a word.

Biggest challenges facing the community? One of the biggest challenges facing the community is the lack of housing, very few rental or ownership opportunities. This is a key contributor to the lack of growth in our economy, Fort Smith continues as a government town with little opportunity for growth. If elected I will work toward addressing these issues by regularly meeting with local leadership, businesses and community organizations. Another area is community programming, I will work to ensure programs and services are affordable, accessible and sustainable.

Leonard Tuckey

Age: Senior citizen

Family status: married with two sons, six grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.

Time in Fort Smith: I have lived here all of my adult life and retired here.

Experience relevant to the job: In the past, I have involved myself in the community by coaching sports, the cadet corps, and was an ambulance attendant for the Town of Hay River. I volunteered for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games, and more recently when flood victims were evacuated from Fort Simpson to Fort Smith. I am currently a board member of the Fort Smith Seniors Society and the Fort Smith Housing Authority Board and being transparent with all community groups.

Why are you running?

I have lived here all of my adult life and believe I could make a meaningful contribution.

Biggest challenges facing the community: I would like to improve communications between council and the community. I believe that council must involve our youth in some capacity that would peak their interest in community affairs. Council should create a youth advocacy group to sit with council and provide youth an opportunity to bring forward any concerns or recommendations that they might have. I believe council needs to revisit the history of Kaesar’s Canal and always maintain it, also to work together to update and ensure preventative steps are taken to ensure the stability of the landslide area.

I believe that all of the bylaws must be enforced and steps need to be taken to ensure that this happens. Roadway and derelict properties must be a priority. I also see a need for increased lighting on all of our roadways. I would like to see benches situated along the walking trails to allow users of all ages to benefit from these trails. I would like to see some parking, benches, or picnic tables available at the town parks. I see a need for a road south to provide an alternate route should the need arise and also as a means of boosting tourism and perhaps cheaper transportation costs.

District Education Authority board

Hilary Turko

Time in Fort Smith: My spouse and I moved to Fort Smith in 2008 when I graduated from the University of Calgary. We bought a home a year later and are raising our two children here. Both are students at JBT Elementary School – one is Grade 1 and one in Kindergarten.

Experience relevant to the job: I was a teacher at PWK High School from 2009-2015, when my daughter was born. Currently, I work as the Outreach Coordinator at the Aurora Research Institute in Fort Smith. I bring hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities to youth, families and educators in the South Slave region. I love connecting youth with science, the science happening in our northern regions, and showcasing the STEM-related careers in our communities. I have experience in project management, grant writing and sitting on a hiring committee. I also own and operate our local greenhouse business, Roots and Ruminants.

Why are you running?

I am running for DEA because I think it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s education. This can look many different ways from reading with your child at home, to volunteering in the classroom, to serving on the DEA. I am hoping that I can bring new energy and new perspectives to our local DEA.

Biggest challenges facing the school district? One of the biggest challenges facing schools is class size. Smaller class sizes can increase academic performance, student engagement, and teacher recruitment and retention.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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