Sahtu | Paul Andrew, Yvonne Doolittle, Danny McNeely, Judi Tutcho

Four candidates are running to replace longtime Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya, who announced shortly before the election he wouldn't run again for health reasons.

All 4 candidates running to replace Norman Yakeleya agree: the Sahtu needs an all-weather highway

Four candidates are running to replace longtime Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya, who announced shortly before the election he wouldn't run again for health reasons. 

Sahtu is geographically diverse, embracing vast Great Bear Lake, several hundred kilometres of the Mackenzie River valley, and the Mackenzie Mountains, which divide N.W.T. from Yukon, and stretching east to the beginning of the Barren Lands. 

Norman Wells, an oil drilling and refining centre founded in the 1930s, remains the area's transportation and supply hub. It is the only predominantly non-aboriginal community in the region. If it is ever built, the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline would cut directly through this district.

Since the last election, there was a flare-up of interest in the region's shale oil deposits, which would require fracking to get to market, although the two most active companies exploring in the area, ConocoPhillips and Husky Energy, have since mothballed operations. 

Tulita has also benefited economically from oil exploration, while Fort Good Hope, at the end of the Sahtu winter road system, has not. Both communities are predominantly Dene, and both are rooted in hunting, fishing and trapping.

Déline, which concluded a self-government agreement in 2014, and tiny Colville Lake (pop. 158) are traditional Dene communities.

Paul Andrew

Paul Andrew was born and raised in Tulita. He worked as a broadcaster for CBC for 30 years before retiring in 2012. He's also known as a singer-songwriter, performing in Slavey. He's served as the chief of Tulita and vice president of the Dene Nation.

Andrew says the number one issue in Sahtu this election is the completion of an all-weather road up the Mackenzie Valley, which he says would have a huge impact on the cost of living in the region. He also says the workings of consensus government should be reexamined, including the cabinet selection process. He favours more direct democracy. Andrew supports more on-the-land programs for addictions treatment and action to strengthen the Dene language.

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Yvonne Doolittle

Yvonne Doolittle was raised in Norman Wells until high school age, when her family moved to Inuvik to avoid residential school. She attended Aurora College and the University of Alberta. She's worked for a decade with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and represents the Sahtu Secretariat on the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

Doolittle says the most important issue for the Sahtu is the completion of an all-weather road for the region, to reduce the cost of living and allow easier inter-community travel. She wants to see resource development that balances the economy and the environment and she supports more emphasis on health and social issues.

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Danny McNeely 

Born and raised in Fort Good Hope, Danny McNeely proudly says he was the first aboriginal person from the Sahtu to be trained as a driller at the Norman Wells oil field. He worked there for five years before going into business for himself, operating heavy equipment, doing road building and construction. He sat on Fort Good Hope council for one term and represented the community's Métis during land claim negotiations from 1985-93.

McNeely also supports the construction of a Sahtu all-weather road. He says the project would put an end to the region's economic downturn and provide relief for high prices for everything from groceries to energy. It would, he says, also reduce social isolation and make it easier for people to look for work. He favours examining a public-private partnership to build the road.

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Judi Tutcho

Judi Tutcho is from Deline. She has a degree in social work from the University of Calgary and a social work degree from the University of Saskatchewan. A former languages commissioner for the N.W.T., Tutcho has worked for the GNWT in one capacity or another for 35 years, including as a teacher, probation officer, a director for the N.W.T. Housing Corporation and most recently as director of income support for the Sahtu.

She says her number one issue is services for people in the region: education, health, help for seniors and people with disabilities, mental health issues and addictions. She says those services are needed to help people get jobs and build the economy. Tutcho also supports the construction of an all-weather road for the region. She says she would not be shy about spending money to tackle social problems.

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