Former Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina announced his candidacy for the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election on Saturday.
Betsina joins three candidates in the running, including former MLA Steve Norn, Nadine Delorme- Simon and Richard Edjericon
The deadline for candidates to apply for the position is Jan. 14.
CKLB spoke with Betsina on his vision for the role.
Why are you running for the seat of Tu Nedhe- Wiilideh?
Basically, the people have talked to me and they asked me to run for MLA, so I had to respect their wishes.
I also have the opportunity to bring back stability and integrity as (the) next MLA.
My track record as chief for eight years, for two full terms… I have lots of experience to bring with me going forward.
What are some of your biggest priorities assuming you take the seat?
Housing is one of them. During my tenure as chief, I have (brought) in $80.85 million. This is direct federal money.
This is the type of lobbying that I want to bring forward and with the help of good local leadership, we can do this.
If YKDFN can do this, so can these other communities.
I will lobby for every dollar each community (is) entitled to in the GNWT funds and capital projects.
I also want to see more family members own their homes and show pride and ownership, basically become happier families.
Also, jobs. The diamond mines are on a downturn. In five to 10 years from now, all the diamond mines will be shutting down, then what?
We need to diversify and start planning for the future, such as alternative energy, support tourism, and strengthen our cultural languages.
We need to encourage small businesses, maximize local employment, work towards members becoming journeymen so they can own their own company, and train their own people. And another one that needs to be talked about and is the Akaitcho negotiations. This has been going on for too long. People are tired of waiting. They want to see action and progress.
What I propose is to work in partnership with the communities and to hold the government accountable. Updates need to happen for all the communities. More communication needs to occur, reaching the elders and community members.
The four communities need to come together and give mandates to the team on negotiations.
How do you plan on addressing those issues?
The Akaitcho negotiations can’t be put on the shelf.
Hopefully, when I get elected, I would bring it up to the forefront. I will push for jobs for the community and housing.
What are your feelings about Steve Norn running for the position again?
It is totally up to him. And if he wants to run, let him run. I mean, ultimately, it’s up to the constituents (and) how they feel about him
The election will be held exclusively by mail-in ballot and all ballots must be sent in by February 8.
The interview has been edited for clarity.