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With many voters displaced, Jean Marie River holds chief election

·2 min read

Members of Jean Marie River First Nation, population 87, will elect a chief on October 27. The election, slightly delayed by historic flooding, will be unusual as many voters are in temporary homes.

Nominations for the position, currently held by Stanley Sanguez, open on September 30 and close on October 14. The election takes place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on October 27 at the community’s band office. Proxy voting will be available.

Four council members will be appointed from the four family groups in the community, a news release from the First Nation stated.

An election for two other councillor positions – one youth and one Elder representative – will be held on November 10, with nominations opening on October 28 and closing on November 4.

Ria Letcher will act as the elections officer.

Elections in the community typically happen in August every three years. Due to the impact of May’s historic Northwest Territories flooding, this year's election was delayed.

The year had "presented its fair share of challenges for the residents of Jean Marie,” the First Nation said.

“Despite this, and in the face of incredible adversity, the community held an annual general meeting at which revisions to the elections code were passed and a clear elections process outlined.”

The First Nation said it would use “all avenues of communications available” to connect with members after the flooding forced residents to at least temporarily seek refuge in communities like Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.

Sanguez says all residents have since returned. Most are said to be living at a camp just outside the community while they wait for repairs to be completed or the arrival of replacement homes.

Home repairs are set to be completed by the end of November, according to the territorial government. Five or six private homes that need to be outright replaced will arrive in “early 2022,” the territory said, while four replacement public housing units are expected to be ready in November.

Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio

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