The riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley is massive.
It covers the central coast of B.C. all the way to Haida Gwaii and north to the Yukon border.
One-third of the population is Indigenous – the highest percentage of any riding in the province.
Since 2004, the NDP have represented voters in Ottawa.
Taylor Bachrach is the NDP incumbent. He was the mayor of Smithers for eight years before first winning the federal seat in 2019.
Bachrach, in Kitimat recently to raise an orange and white flag in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, sees this race as pivotal.
“The pandemic has shown us how important it is that we pull together as a community,” he said in an interview.
“The [elders] really feel we are at a turning point; we’re at this point where there is a great awakening, and they want to see it backed up with action.”
Bachrach said the NDP have a plan to address the recent findings of unmarked graves at former residential schools with funding and support.
“The first thing that we hear from people is that they want all of the children found and brought home, so that is our commitment,” he added.
“To bring all of the resources of the federal government to bear, to search all of the school sites in partnership with communities, and bring those children home to their homes.”
Adeana Young is an Indigenous candidate running for the Green Party.
She is a member of the Haida Nation and spent 10 years involved in politics at the local level on Haida Gwaii.
She served as a council member and, most recently, a school board trustee.
Young felt the Green Party gave her the best chance to provide a voice to all people in the riding.
“With the Green Party, I can come and say on the national level that is not going to work in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley Riding,” she said.
Young believes in Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together to tackle the climate crisis by expanding renewable energy projects.
“We should resist all attempts to expand or encourage or facilitate fossil fuel consumption,” she said, “and welcome all attempts to expand, encourage and facilitate renewable energy consumption.”
Jody Craven is the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada.
He grew up in Prince Rupert, and spent 34 years working for Rio Tinto in Kitimat before retiring.
He has been part of a number of groups and committees such as Kitimat Youth Soccer and the Kitimat Minor Hockey League.
“I am running for the People’s Party of Canada because its the only party standing up for our freedoms and charter of rights for all Canadians,” he said in a statement emailed to APTN News.
“We have to come together as a nation.”
Craven said his party would take a balanced approach on Indigenous issues. It also has a plan to move on from the Indian Act, he added.
“[A] Peoples Party of Canada government will explore options to replace the paternalistic Indian Act, which keeps Indigenous peoples in a state of dependency and allows the federal government to control most aspects of their lives,” he said in the statement.
“With a new legal framework that guarantees equal rights and responsibilities to Indigenous people as Canadians and promotes the self-reliance of communities, a Peoples Party of Canada government will respect our constitution and treaties.”
APTN also reached out to the other candidates on the Sept. 20 ballot: Rod Taylor for the Christian Heritage Party and Claire Rattée of the Conservatives.
Rattée feels it is time for a fresh start in the riding.
She said the Conservatives are making tangible commitments to the region.
“We have plans to address the opioid crisis, investing $325 million over three years to create 1,000 treatment beds and 50 recovery centres,” she said in an emailed statement.
“And [her party is promising to make] the single-largest investment in Canadian history for mental health supports for Indigenous people by providing $1 billion over five years to boost funding for Indigenous mental health and treatment programs, including culturally appropriate supports.”
Their platform also addresses environmental concerns, she added.
“We have a robust plan to tackle environmental issues and reduce emissions, and ways to boost aquaculture and protect our salmon…We will encourage value-added industry in partnership with communities and First Nations.”
The Conservative Party is also promising to invest in infrastructure and Indigenous initiatives,Rattée said.
“We are committed to investing in First Nations arts and culture initiatives, helping end human trafficking rings that have abused Indigenous women and girls for decades, and making more infrastructure investments into communities across Northern B.C.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comment from the Conservative Party candidate.