Meet the Dehcho Grand Chief candidates: Tim Lennie

Tim Lennie, the former chief of the Pedzéh Kı̨ First Nation, is one of three people running in the Dehcho First Nations grand chief election. (Submitted by Sarah Lennie - image credit)
Tim Lennie, the former chief of the Pedzéh Kı̨ First Nation, is one of three people running in the Dehcho First Nations grand chief election. (Submitted by Sarah Lennie - image credit)

The election for Dehcho Grand Chief is on June 28.

Three candidates are running to replace current interim Dehcho First Nations Chief Stanley Sanguez.

Sanguez took over as leader on March 2 after former leader Kenny Cayen was removed.

According to Lloyd Chicot, chief of Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa, Cayen's removal was a result of his being unavailable for meetings, his refusal to get vaccinated or to move to Fort Simpson, N.W.T., which are requirements for the position.

Herb Norwegian, Jim Antoine and Tim Lennie are all running for election.

CBC News has spoken with each candidate ahead of the election.

Luke Carroll/ CBC
Luke Carroll/ CBC

Tim Lennie is the former chief of Pedzéh Kı̨ First Nation in Wrigley.

He says the COVID-19 pandemic gave him time for deep reflection on what the Dehcho First Nations needs to do.

The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

CBC News: What is your long-term vision for the Dehcho First Nations?

Tim Lennie: At the end of the day, we need to work together. How do we do that, to unify the region, the people? That's my main concern.

As leaders in the past, we've done probably 30 or 40 years of exploring options for government policy and legislation, unable to participate in the Canadian Constitution and a lot of these other things that are happening. At the same time, we're dealing with residential schools, day schools, the 60s Scoop.

I will never go out and say, "Come vote for me" — that's the last thing on my mind. I do have my own views, values and beliefs, but the decision of the leadership in the community, that's where I get my direction from. It's just giving the Dehcho a voice. In the Dehcho, we need to really unify ourselves. Our people need to start working together.

COVID hit everybody hard, I think. We've lost a lot of people, a lot of family. Now, to get back our strength, our unity, to be there for each other as we were before — that's the missing part. Bring back the drum, our way of life.

CBC News: How do you see the Dehcho Process fitting into that kind of vision and your values as a Dehcho Dene leader?

TL: Wouldn't that be self-government? To be self-sufficient, to earn your own way? Even in the Dehcho, we have nurses, doctors and lawyers — we don't need somebody like Tim Lennie. We have very qualified, innovative individuals that can be part of building the nation. But decisions need to be made at the community level, how we're going to do it together with the others.

Every community in the Dehcho is still protective, individually, over their territory. We're saying the same thing, but just in different ways. We all want the same thing, but how can we get there if we're not supporting each other?

We'd like to have our people home. We have a lot of educated people out here from Pedzéh Kı̨, but we're not able to provide them homes. Governments are willing to bring other people into our country, into the territories, but we couldn't get one house. Housing is a real issue, so things have got to change for First Nations. There's got to be some action.

This next generation, they've got to find their voice. What I'm hearing, there's a lot of young people that are finding their voice — they don't have to fear any more.