Three indigenous candidates for nomination announced by Yukon NDP
February 3, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 3rd, 2021
WHITEHORSE, YUKON – The Yukon NDP announced three candidates today, as well as a nomination contest in Mountainview.
The candidates for nomination announced today are: Ashley Cummings, an Inuk mental health advocate and former member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council; Francis van Kessel (Wat.si) a Teslin Tlingit citizen and an advocate for social inclusion and neuro-diverse awareness; and Patty Wallingham a citizen of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation and champion curler who represented Yukon at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Cummings will be contesting the NDP nomination in Mountainview, alongside previously announced candidate Michelle Friesen, a Yukon First Nation citizen who works with the Yukon Region of the Assembly of First Nations. Van Kessel will be running in Porter Creek North; and Wallingham will be running in her home region, Mayo-Tatchun.
The three candidates announced today are Indigenous women who have spent years working and volunteering in their communities in fields ranging from mental health to tourism and culture.
“It’s so important we safeguard the future,” said Cummings. “It’s not enough to just make promises, we need to give young people role models who they can look up to. We need to show our youth we will act for them and for their children after them, to make a difference now.”
“Change starts with one person,” said van Kessel. “Finding new ways to help people is already a huge part of my life, but I want to be able to help people across the territory. I want Yukon to be a more prosperous place for the next seven generations, and as a member of a Yukon NDP government I know we can make it happen.”
“This is about building a new future,” said Cunningham. “Indigenous people are facing crises that have been causing harm for years. Going ‘back to normal’ just isn’t an option. That’s why I am running, to make a real difference, and I believe in Kate White because she will fight to make a difference too.”
The Yukon NDP say this election is not just about the next few years but has ramifications for generations to come. They aim to assemble a team of candidates who know how to address the difficult issues facing the territory.
“These women have put their lives into their work, they are dedicated to their communities, and those are exactly the qualities I am looking for as we build the Yukon NDP team,” said Yukon NDP Leader Kate White.
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Ashley Cummings (she\her) is an Inuk mental health warrior who has spent much of her life working for mental health organizations including North in Focus and the Kids Help Phone Indigenous Advisory Council. She was motivated to take an active role in the mental health of her communities after witnessing first-hand the intergenerational trauma of residential schools as well as the loss of friends and family to mental illness. Ashley also serves her community with the Hillcrest Community Association as a board member.
She also brings with her a deep knowledge of culture and tourism, having worked for the and Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and Adäka Cultural Festival as well as in tourism roles on cruise ships in her traditional territory of Nunavut. An advocate for hunter’s & trapper’s rights, climate action, and the inclusion of Indigenous voices in decision-making, Ashley is clear in all her work about the importance of real reconciliation. Reconciliation, she says, must go far beyond land acknowledgements and apologies.
Francis Van Kessel (Wat.si, she\her\they\them) is a Teslin Tlingit citizen and a member of the Dakhl’awedi Clan. She is an advocate for social inclusion and neuro-diverse people, working for Inclusion Yukon, and is dedicated to action on climate change and food sovereignty in the Yukon.
A tireless worker, Francis is a board representative for Yukon Registered Nurses Association, Paradise Music Festival, and the Yukon NDP. Along with her work she regularly volunteers for the Whitehorse Elks 306, Boys and Girls Club, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Whitehorse Connects as well as other community events.
Francis also represents Dakhl’awedi Clan on her Investment committee. Her dedication to her traditional values and Tlingit culture is core to her daily life and in her spare time she is learning her Tlingit Language.
Patty Wallingham (she\her) is an Indigenous Athlete who grew up in Pelly Crossing and Carmacks in the Mayo-Tatchun region. As she says, these communities ‘resonate so closely to my heart.’ Patty understands the positive impact sports can have and is passionate about connecting with young people. She is a champion curler who represented Yukon at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Patty is dedicated to working with community members and championing their concerns in the territory. Her work ethic is a driving force behind everything that she does, whether that is in the political arena or on the ice. She believes that we must act with dedication in the present to create a better world in the future.