Chief Lynda Dickson of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation was sworn in last Friday to her four-year term.
Dickson laid out several priorities for the First Nation in an interview with the Star this morning.
The swearing-in was delayed for more than three months after the June 30 election date because of the COVID-19 pandemic and several deaths in
the community, Dickson said.
She said the ceremony was even played down because it was felt it was not appropriate to have a large celebration because of the circumstances.
Dickson received 109 votes and defeated the closest runner-up, Danny Cresswell, by a mere five votes.
Dickson was elected chief last year in a byelection to replace former chief Andy Carvill. He was removed from office after being accused of sexually
harassing a staff member.
There are several issues the First Nation will advance over the next four years, including updating its constitution, she said.
Dickson said the constitution that was developed for the signing of the First Nation land claim and self-government agreement in the early 2000s has
not changed since then.
“There are a number of initiatives we are working on, and the constitution is one of them,” she said. “Our constitution was hastily put together, and it
never really grew with us as we grew.”
Providing housing for the membership, said Dickson, is also a high priority, and the First Nation is looking at a rent-to-own program.
Ensuring there is an adequate stock of social housing is important, as it is with First Nations across the territory because there is a shortage of social
housing, she said.
Dickson said health and healing are of major importance, noting the removal of the Choutla residential school is well underway by the First Nations development corporation.
“We need to have closure on that for some of our citizens,” she said.
The chief said the First Nation is moving forward with a biomass project that will see wood being used to heat some of their buildings, similar to the
district heating system the Teslin Tlingit Council has put together using wood chips.
Finding sources of clean energy is important for the First Nation, she said.
Dickson noted Carcross-Tagish has been given $1.2 million in federal funding to finance the biomass project.
The isolation, travel restrictions and restrictions on large gatherings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have been somewhat overwhelming for
the community, she said.
The chief said it has disrupted traditional practices like holding a potlatch when somebody in the community dies.
While Carcross did enjoy a relatively quiet summer because of no tourists, people are feeling the isolation of not being able to visit with each other
and socialize as they normally do, she said.