Liard First Nation postpones election because of COVID-19 pandemic
Vote was scheduled for June 29, now delayed for up to six months
The Liard First Nation (LFN) in Yukon has decided to postpone its election for up to six months, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current term of the chief and council was set to expire on June 5, and the election had been planned for June 29. On Wednesday, the First Nation's council decided to put everything on hold and extend its term.
In a letter to the First Nation's election committee, Chief George Morgan referred to the "unprecedented risk" associated with the ongoing pandemic.
"The risk to vulnerable elders, citizens, and knowledge keepers is a direct threat to LFN and Kaska culture," he wrote.
"Council has decided that this step is necessary and required to protect our people."
The Watson Lake, Yukon-based First Nation has about 1,400 members, according to its website.
In March, federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller recommended that First Nations not proceed with elections due to public health risks associated with large gatherings. The government then introduced regulations allowing First Nations leaders to defer elections for up to six months.
In his letter, Morgan says the Liard First Nation election will go ahead "when we can be assured that the risk to LFN citizens, and in particular our elders, has been sufficiently minimized."
"The timing of our election should be a wise and thoughtful decision that does not risk harm to our people."
Yukon has seen 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and all of the affected people have recovered from the illness. It's been more than a month since the territory has seen any new cases.