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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Mayoral candidates stood in front of voters on Tuesday, voicing how they will tackle local issues in Fort St. John.

Lilia Hansen, Steven Labossiere, and Shannon Stange took the stage and shared their platform and opinions on issues such as health care, climate change, and reconciliation.

Candidates started with two and a half minutes for their opening statements.

Stange used his time to explain how he was born and raised in the area and returned to the community to care for his father.

“I’m coming back, not just because I love this community, but I have something to bring back to it,” he said.

Labossiere explained how he was born and raised in the Kootenays before moving up with his family four years ago.

“What I would like to do here in Fort St. John is keep that family together because family is important for everybody,” he said.

Hansen spoke on how she hopes to build a “welcoming” community through her 20 years of experience with local government.

“I wanna build a welcoming, inclusive community with housing, health care, education, recreation, [while] working with community and regional partners,” she said.

For the question period, the candidates were given 90 seconds to answer.

A question pertaining to healthcare was posed to the candidates, asking how they could help on a municipal level.

Stange stated that they have “very little impact” over what Northern Health does or doesn’t do.

“But we can do things such as advocating with them, saying, ‘here are the needs within our community,'” he said.

“One of the key things that we can do is build a city that doctors and nurses will want to live in.”

Labossiere says he thinks the communities in the north need to join a coalition to advocate “big time” to get doctors and nurses to the city.

Hansen stated that health care is one of the city’s biggest social issues and a complex problem.

“[It] requires collaborations and a commitment to finding solutions,” she said.

“We need to build relationships with our local health authority to keep lines of communication open so that we can lobby other levels of government together.”

“What have you done to educate yourself about the history of truth and reconciliation in and around Fort St. John?” was asked.

Labossiere spoke briefly about his uncles who were in residential schools.

“I know quite about it, but I just like to keep it in my heart and not talk about it,” he said.

Stange says truth and reconciliation are two words that should be important to a preacher, and it is important to him, but he hasn’t had enough time to make those efforts locally, though he has in his past.

“It’s hard because of the past for people of faith to say, ‘I own this,’ but here’s the thing about that, is that I do own it. Now, was I the one who made the decisions? No,” he said.

“Throughout my career as a minister, I’ve spent many times with other men and women who are [Indigenous] and leading congregations of faith in places that have been deeply affected by this… Truth and reconciliation is the foundation of how I approach relationships with people.”

Hansen appreciated Lori Ackerman’s efforts concerning truth and reconciliation and spoke about one-on-one conversations to understand.

“What truth and reconciliation mean to me is having the utmost respect and dealing with the uncomfortable truth,” she said.

“We need to hear these stories and take an honest look at the reality… We need to first listen for truth and listen for answers.”

Following nine discussion topics, candidates had a chance to ask one another questions, the audience could pose their questions, and then each candidate made closing statements.

The general election will be held on October 15th, where they will select a mayor, six councillors, and three trustees for School District 60.

The full FSJ Mayor Candidate Forum can be viewed below:

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.