On Saturday, Aug. 4, the regular poll will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Port Multiplex. Voters in Tlell and Port Clements to vote for a new Gwaii Trust director for Graham Island Central. (Wikipedia photo)

On Saturday, Aug. 4, the regular poll will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Port Multiplex. Voters in Tlell and Port Clements to vote for a new Gwaii Trust director for Graham Island Central. (Wikipedia photo)

Election time for Graham Island Central

Three questions for the Gwaii Trust director candidates up for election on Aug. 4

Voters in Tlell and Port Clements are about to choose a new Gwaii Trust director for Graham Island Central.

Three candidates are in the running for what will be a short, nine-month term: Maureen Bailey, Elizabeth Cumming, and Ian Gould.

On Saturday, Aug. 4, the regular poll will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Port Multiplex. Voters need two pieces of ID, at least one with a signature, but photo ID is not required.

To give voters a better sense of what each candidate might bring to the Gwaii Trust leadership, the Observer asked three open-ended questions. Here is how each candidate answered:

Maureen Bailey

Why do you want to be a Gwaii Trust director?

I have a tremendous respect for Gwaii Trust and the legacy that comes with the vision for the Islands. Being elected as a director is a responsibility that I would be honoured to have. I am a fan of the society’s structure and with the selection of an alternate director I have an amazing partner in Christine Cunningham who brings tremendous energy and a complete balance to our team.

What are your top two priorities for Graham Island Central?

Sustainable energy and food security are a top priority, combined with youth-support initiatives.

How could Gwaii Trust better serve the islands as a whole?

Continuously evolve and assess what is working well; improve the grant application process; and bring greater clarity on what grants may be available to support all islanders.

Elizabeth Cumming

Why do you want to be a Gwaii Trust director?

To give back, to learn to improve my ability to support the community, and to take on an active role again. The Gwaii Trust Society has been a constant presence in my life and like most young Islanders, its continuing education program helped me with the costs of my degree. It supported me, and I cannot help but feel like I want to participate in supporting it. This role is the way to do that.

It is also an aspect of my professional life — I work for the Village of Port Clements, which, like all the island municipalities, has a close relationship with the society for grant funding. Improving my knowledge of what the society does and how it works – application cycles, what opportunities are available to pursue, etc. – could only be a benefit to my capacity to support the community in my work. I think similar reasons are why municipal councillors frequently are appointed as directors. I also heard and am concerned that lack of information is causing Graham Island Central to under-utilize and under-apply, when compared to other areas, for what the society offers. I want that to change.

I have also always liked participating in these kinds of roles, as I find it hard to hear a great idea and not do anything with it rather than support or act on it. In high school I was on student council every year as a grade representative and then became more involved with a secretary/treasurer function in addition to it. I undertook both a supporting and active role in seeing ideas developed, pursued and made real and I enjoyed having that balance. My current job gives me the supporting side of things while the director position would balance it by being the active role. I think it is a personally great opportunity to explore, so I acted on it.

What are your top two priorities for Graham Island Central?

The economy, infrastructure, and green energy development. I cannot break up these three musketeers.

How could Gwaii Trust better serve the islands as a whole?

Developing more grant options for individuals and households would be an idea to improve the service being given to the island as a whole. There are few grants currently aimed directly at individuals as most are for organizations and the communities to undertake. Shifting focus a bit to get the grant streams for individuals up to parity to those offered to groups could have the same benefits that other grassroots movements have had.

Ian Gould

Why do you want to be a Gwaii Trust director?

Most simply, a sense of responsibility to the community. I’ve served on Port village council for six years and on Regional District for five of those years. While there, I also served on the Gwaii Trust (for 4 1/2 years) as Berry Wijdeven’s alternate. I have an understanding of islands-wide issues and challenges, a clear understanding of the Trust’s strengths and weaknesses, and believe I can help move the organization forward. I am also retired from logging and have more free time to devote to community service.

What are your top two priorities for Graham Island Central?

The Trust is consensus-based. Essentially, all directors “agree” on an issue before moving forward. Each fall, meetings set budgets and programs for the new year. While each program has broad objectives, the trust does not solicit applications. Instead, whatever applications come in from the communities that meet the guidelines are considered.

Here is my first priority: I would like to move the Trust from an open, broad call for proposals to having more specific RFPs (Request for Proposals) in some programs areas, allowing us to address specific needs. The Trust (in my opinion) has done well in helping to meet the needs for social and educational programs; however, it has difficulty in areas like supporting businesses to be successful. It is a complex issue, but I believe it’s an important one to resolve. When the Athlii Trust (formerly SMFRA) comes online I would like to see it focus more on business development.

Currently, the Trust receives few applications from our communities. In recent years, most applications from Port Clements were started by myself as mayor at that time. My second priority then, is to have more applications from our communities for the various programs the Trust offers. I intend to be aggressive in this. We have money remaining in the Vibrant Communities fund that needs to be committed.

There will be other programs like “Major Infrastructure” that we should be applying to as well. My hope is to find an alternate in Tlell to help strengthen and increase the number of our community applications.

How could Gwaii Trust better serve the islands as a whole?

First, the Trust has done well in a number of areas. It is also a model of how the Haida and civic communities can work together to improve the quality of life for all on Haida Gwaii. The main challenge (in my opinion) is turnover and lack of experience among Trust directors. Continuity is hard to maintain. The Gwaii Trust is not a professionally trained board and the larger issues (such as business development) can be overwhelming for many. I have several thoughts on ways to improve this, but this is not the forum in which to present them. I am always happy to talk in person with anyone who has questions or would like to share their ideas.


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