Annita McPhee has submitted her name for the NDP candidacy in the federal Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding.
The prominent Indigenous advocate served three terms as president of the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) until 2014, and currently runs her own consultancy firm focusing on communication strategies between First Nations and industry over energy and resource development.
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By entering the race for the vacant NDP MP seat, she says it’s important to build the economy and create good paying jobs, while at the same time protecting the environment and securing the livelihood of future generations.
“I’m very passionate about what happens, and how it happens. It’s really important to have a strong economy, and it’s important to continue to build that economy, but at the same time I know what a delicate balance it is to protect the environment and the things that we love.”
During McPhee’s time as TCG president, she accepted an award from the Tides Canada environmental organization for a deal reached with Shell, who surrendered its coalbed methane drilling and exploration tenure in the Klappan area in return for $20 million in provincial royalty credits to develop a water recycling plant at a gas project in northeastern B.C.
During her presidency the Tahltan also signed economic and social development agreements with AltaGas of Calgary when it built three run-of-river hydroelectric projects worth nearly $1 billion on the Iskut River in Tahltan traditional territory, and signed a decision-making deal with the B.C. government that smoothed the way for the Red Chris gold and copper mine to move toward production.
“I strongly believe in building relationships,” she says. “Relationships that are built on equality for all the people of the Northwest.”
McPhee is also a strong human rights and social justice advocate.
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“I have always advocated for children, women, and vulnerable populations, and will advocate for more services such as affordable housing and improved health care,” she says.
During the Telegraph Creek wildfires last year McPhee was a central figure for evacuees as a health and social support worker with the Emergency Operations Centre in Terrace. Her Facebook page, Telegraph Creek Fires, also became the primary point for information sharing among community members.
McPhee holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria, and has been an advisor and director on several provincial and national boards including the Legal Services Society, Vancouver Board of Trade’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee, BC Hydro’s Strategic Aboriginal Engagement Committee, and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women.
McPhee brings the number of NDP hopefulls to four vying to replace outgoing MP Nathan Cullen. McPhee joins Taylor Bachrach and Greg Brown, both from Smithers, and Amanda Ramsay of Terrace. So far only Bachrach has been vetted and approved by the party.
Meetings are being planned throughout the riding in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Burns Lake and Fort St. James so NDP members can meet the nomination candidates.