The Liard First Nation in Watson Lake has voted to give Daniel Morris another chance.
Morris was elected chief last night with 125 votes. The closest runner-up, George Morgan Johnny, got 103.
Jim Wolftail got 94 votes, Susan Magun got 73 and Georgina Lutz-McKay got 26 votes.
It won’t be Morris’ first time holding the position.
He was removed from the post in 2004 when he was convicted for a violent domestic assault.
Morris admitted to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and beating his estranged wife for hours, and holding her at gunpoint.
Court documents describe a prolonged attack. "At the gravel pit, Mr. Morris forced E.D. out of the truck and began punching and kicking her all over her body. She pleaded with him to stop and at one point agreed to have sexual intercourse with him if he would stop beating her. After the sexual intercourse, the respondent continued to assault her. The assault continued for approximately two hours in total."
A psychological assessment ordered in 2003 also determined that Morris did not show significant symapthy for the victim, and "seemed more concerned with his personal loss of status as a result of his offences than how his offences may have impacted the victims."
At the time, his sentence of two years probation was viewed by some as too lenient. He was later given a year in jail.
Letter of apology
This year before the election Morris released a letter of apology to the community.
"First and foremost I would like to say I am very sorry. I sincerely apologize to all my elders, people, youth, family and all Kaska Nation. Therefore I am asking for your forgiveness," reads the letter.
Supporters say Morris is rehabilitated and deserves another chance.
Walter Carlick, the new deputy Chief, is among them. He says Morris has earned the voters’ trust.
“The people have said that they want him in there, it's obvious,” Carlick says. “I've already talked to Daniel and we've agreed that if he gets in we would work together, so, yes, I will be working with Daniel.”
"It's about time for a change," said Elizabeth Donnessy. "It's time for people to get back together and act civilized. I am so happy."
“Criminal record is a criminal record,” says another supporter. “It was just a misunderstanding, it was all it was. And what he's doing right now, he's gonna make a big change here.”