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Kotchilea looking to future, looking for change

Despite narrowly losing out on election day, NDP candidate Kelvin Kotchilea said he enjoyed the campaign experience and felt he connected with residents.

“When I did meet with individuals, Indigenous governments, individuals and NGOs, were taken aback — well, this is a very young person that has thought very hard about the social issues we are facing and trying to be part of the solution, and give back to the community,” he said.

Coming into the election, his only other foray into politics had been during the Monfwi MLA byelection earlier this summer.

McLeod broke out into a lead early in the night, however the race tightened to within 300 votes not long after.

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Overnight and into Tuesday, he stretched out his lead, gathering 37.9 percent of the votes, is 678 more than NDP’s Kelvin Kotchilea, who has 32.7 percent of the votes.

Early the next morning, Kotchilea posted to Facebook, congratulating Michael McLeod on winning the election — results are yet to be confirmed as mail-in ballots are still being counted.

In an interview with, Kotchilea said strategic voting may have impacted the result.

“I think some people voted Liberal, not that they really didn’t want to vote NDP, but they were so scared of a Conservative government, that they just wanted to secure another seat for the Liberals,” he said. 

“So I think what my next messaging would be is in order to see change and want real change, we have to take that leap of faith in the unknown,” he said. “Because just sticking with something that’s a fear factor is not the way to move forward in society.”

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Kotchilea is from the Tlicho region and works with the GNWT as a finance officer, after taking courses at Aurora College. 

Kothcilea said his plans were to do some workshops with non-profits in the territory to get more people interested in leadership, take some online courses at Athabasca University, and run again for the NDP come the next election.

“To everyone reaching out last night and this morning, asking me to run again in the next federal election, if the NDP and the local EDA would have me as their candidate again, I’ll definitely give it another go, it was a close race,” Kotchilea wrote in his post.

“What I appreciate most out of the two elections is that experience of interacting with so many people,” he added. “It definitely made me feel — it brought a different part of me who had just taken more care and part of me into my views of the North.”

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