Meet the candidates running for council in Fort Smith, N.W.T.

With municipal elections in the Northwest Territories only a few days away, we invited council candidates from Fort Smith to make their case, in their own words.

14 candidates seeking election to council on Oct. 15

14 candidates are seeking seats on Fort Smith's council in the Oct. 15 election. (Priscilla Hwang/CBC)

Voters in Fort Smith will head to the polls to select a new mayor and council on Oct. 15. While candidates for mayor participated in a live debate on The Trailbreaker earlier this week, CBC North asked each candidate for council to tell us a bit about themselves, their priorities, and why voters should tick their name on election day.

Here are their replies, in their own words.

Responses received by CBC are listed in alphabetical order and have been edited for clarity and style. If you are a candidate for council in the N.W.T.'s upcoming municipal elections and would like to have your response included, please email

Louise Beaulieu​

(Kirsten Murphy/CBC)
I was born and raised in Fort Smith. I am a Metis, a 4th-generation descendant of Francois King Beaulieu I, and am a mother to three adult children.

I was one of the first females to break barriers in forestry fire fighting as a crew member, crew boss, and fire boss, a career I held for 26 years. I was also the first female to hold the rank of Sergeant for the 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in Fort Smith.

I organized and ran a citizens on patrol group in the Fort Smith area for 10 years. I planned and co-organized the alternative Phoenix School in Fort Smith in 2005, which is still going strong.

I'm also a hunter and trapper and have a trapline in the Fort Smith area.

Throughout the years, I've seen changes in and around the community take place. In the last few years, seen it go from mild to extreme when it comes to violence and break ins. Safety and open communication needs to be addressed in our community. I'm also a people person and at time's will advocate for the community people for different issues.

I love meeting and talking to the people and listening to their concern's in our community. I'm also an open book, so to speak, as people know who I am and what I'm about. I'm also an advocate for people when needed to be for issues involving our community and the betterment of it and am not afraid to speak on matters that need addressing.

Michael Couvrette​

(Kirsten Murphy/CBC)
I have called Fort Smith home since moving here in 1986. I am a long-term northern resident of 48 years and have resided in multiple communities across the NWT and what is now Nunavut since 1970.

I previously served on Fort Smith's town council in the mid 1990s. I am retired from the GNWT and spend much of my time focused on operating an alpaca farm and related agricultural activities with my wife Helena. I serve as the chairperson of the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society and as a volunteer coordinator for the society's annual Dark Sky Festival and other activities.

I am a committee member on the town's Tourism and Trade Advisory Board. In the past I also participated on several boards as an individual, as a representative of a government or town council.

I would like to see Fort Smith take positive steps to become a more economically diversified and sustainable community. This can be achieved by marketing our community as a favourable and affordable place to set up or relocate businesses by highlighting our affordable cost-of-living, showcasing the abundance of recreational and excellent lifestyle opportunities, and by developing other incentives. Initially, we should focus on targeting small businesses that can easily operate remotely and are based on things like emerging technologies, e-commerce, and distance education, among others.

As well, the community needs a robust and dynamic strategy to deal with the territorial government's existing plans to erode our community's position as the post-secondary education centre of the NWT. It also needs our leadership to address the covert and less obvious trend of redeploying key government positions to other communities.

I believe a community needs a definitive "vision." It is a critical part of the process of becoming a sustainable community. It allows residents to look into the future, think creatively and ask themselves what they want their community to be in 20 or 30 years. A vision describes an ideal picture. The vision guides goal-setting, policies and actions by providing context for understanding community concerns, prioritizing issues, determining action steps and identifying indicators to measure progress.

Jessica Cox

(Kirsten Murphy/CBC)
I have lived in Fort Smith since 2000, when I moved to town to work as a reporter at the local weekly newspaper. I currently work at Aurora College, and so have experience working in both the private and public sectors. Additionally, I was a stay-at-home mom for more than six years. My experience allows me to appreciate the different work dynamics in the community, and the issues that affect families in Fort Smith.

I have volunteered with several organizations, including:

  • 2018 Arctic Winter Games Host Society (2014-present)
  • Fort Smith Minor Hockey (2006-present)
  • Recreation Advisory Board (2009-present)
  • Fort Smith Animal Society (2010-present)
  • Fort Smith District Education Authority (2012-2015)
  • Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre (2008-2012)            
  • Fort Smith Volunteer Fire Department (2001-2007)

If elected to council, I will work towards making Fort Smith the healthiest community in the N.W.T., a goal identified in the strategic plan developed by the current council.

Ray Currie

(Kirsten Murphy/CBC)
I am a young eighty years old. I have lived in Fort Smith since 1970. In 1995, I retired from teaching after a thirty-five-year career. I then taught at TEP (Teacher Education Program) for several years.

I volunteered on the Fort Smith ambulance team for twenty-one years, eventually becoming an EMT. I was also instructed by St. John's ambulance.

I have spent the last three and a half years as chairperson of St. Joseph's Cathedral Parish Council, overseeing the $3.5 million conversion to electric hot water heating of the cathedral and parish rectory.

I am running for council because I feel the people of Fort Smith need a clear path to council with their concerns. I have nothing to prove. I live by Mother Teresa's words: "anyway." If I do something for the good of the town and people complain about it, I will do it anyway.

My priorities if elected are:

  • Attempt to ensure that every action of council is for the good of the town and its people.
  • The availability of available rental properties for the people.  
  • Upgrades to the cemetery with the addition of a columbarium for ashes.

The upgrades to the garbage disposal area with the addition of a recycling area and a compost facility.
People should vote for me because I will work for their good, not my own.

Chris Westwell

(Kirsten Murphy/CBC)
I have been a resident of Fort Smith for over 15 years. I moved here when I was 20 to work as an "IT guy" at Cascade Computers. I have been employed as an "IT guy" at Aurora College for the last 10 years.

I successfully ran for council in 2009 and 2012. I served 2 consecutive terms, then in 2015, took a break and didn't run so I could focus on starting a family. During my time on council, I was chair of the Corporate Services Committee and was the representative on the Fort Smith Housing authority, Northern life museum, and sustainable development advisory board. I have served on the Union of Northern Workers Local 12 executive, representing the employees of Aurora College in Fort Smith for the last nine years; I am currently serving as President.

I love politics, discussion and debate. I consider serving the public and ensuring you are an informed and engaged citizen an important pillar of a healthy community, healthy country and healthy democracy. I love the work, and the opportunity you have to positively affect the day-to-day lives of people in my community.

My priorities as a counselor are to listen to my constituents and seek their feedback and input on important matters. Do my homework, know my subject matter and ensure I am making informed and educated decisions. More singular priorities would be to see follow through on implementation of the waste management plan that I have been working with the Town of Fort Smith on for a number of years. Additionally, I would like to revisit and review existing bylaws with a goal of ensuring that Fort Smith has fair and attractive taxation, bylaws and zoning.

Why should people tick my name on election day? I am ready to work for them.

Kevin Campbell, Chris DeWolf, Al Dumont, Gerard Fradsham, Keith Hartery, Ron Holtorf, Bob McArthur, Ann Pischinger, and Kevin Smith are also running for council, though they have not yet sent responses to CBC.