Terry Teegee and Cheryl Casimer are awaiting results of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) first-ever virtual election.
Following a whirlwind of virtual campaigning, one of them will be elected for a three-year term as regional chief once polls close on Nov. 18 at 11:30 a.m.
Teegee, a member of the Takla Nation north of Prince George, is eyeing a second term.
“Any work with government or industry takes a long time for change,” he said. “You need at least two terms to make substantial movement and finish off the work you’ve started.”
Some of that work pertains to economic development, addressing racism, creating a national justice strategy, and the provincial implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), said Teegee.
A big issue is developing a climate change strategy, as well as the opioid crisis, he said.
Casimer hopes more women will become involved with First Nations governance and leadership and said there are only three women on the BCAFN executive committee.
A member of the Ktunaxa Nation and former chief of ?aqam First Nation near Cranbrook, Casimer resides in Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake) with her partner Chief Dan George.
Casimer is an elected member of the First Nations Summit political executive since 2013.
Progress continues to be impeded by issues around shared territory overlap in which nations pit themselves against each another resulting in lawsuits, she added.
“All too often we come together and we start talking about what’s wrong,” Casimer said, noting she is exploring a partnership with the University of Victoria to develop resolution tools from an Indigenous lens.
Regardless of who is elected, both candidates agree the first issue to tackle head-on is the COVID-19 pandemic in which First Nations must be a part of B.C.’s economic recovery plan.