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Fort Chipewyan woman named NDP candidate for Fort McMurray--Cold Lake riding

Melody Lepine, the Director of Government and Industry Relations for Mikisew Cree First Nations, has been elected as the NDP candidate for the Fort McMurray – Cold Lake riding.
NDP candidate Melody Lepine
NDP candidate Melody Lepine

Melody Lepine, the Director of Government and Industry Relations for Mikisew Cree First Nations, has been elected as the NDP candidate for the Fort McMurray – Cold Lake riding.

Lepine currently lives in Fort Chipewyan, a small community approximately 280 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and 715 kilometres north of Cold Lake.

For the past 12 years she has been in charge of working with government and industry officials to ensure the resource development that occurs on Mikisew land is done in a sustainable way.

“I oversee all of the resource development consultations between my community and various different oil sands developers as well as have a lot of interaction with various levels of government from federal to provincial to municipal,” said Lepine, who feels her background in dealing with politicians makes her well suited to run for a seat in parliament.

Lepine was the fourth candidate to place her name on the ballot for the Fort McMurray—Cold Lake riding, joining Conservative David Yurgida, Liberal Kyle Harrietha and Libertarian Scott Berry. Following her was Christian Heritage Party's Roelof Janssen.

Over the course of her time working with industry, Lepine has been instrumental in the negotiation of several successful deals with dozens of oil companies.

“I am a strong advocate for sustainable development,” said Lepine. “I really feel the Conservative government has done a terrible job managing the oil sands, in particular, weakening environmental legislations.”

With a background in Environmental Sciences, and a continued pursuit of a Masters of Sciences from Royal Roads University, Lepine feels she has a pretty good understanding of the relationship between industry and the environment.

After seeing first hand the amount of money that gets tossed around by industry in deals throughout the region, Lepine feels that more money needs to be coming back to the north, where it is being generated.

“I don't believe they have been prioritizing this region, in terms of supporting the rapid rate of development and infrastructure needs, helping growing families and caring for seniors,” said Lepine. “Down in Cold Lake I know there has been an awful lot of neglect in terms of the veterans, the military support and the federal workers down there.”

Lepine will get an up close view of the regions issues when she visits Cold Lake from October 3 through 9. During her visit she plans on making trips to local schools and talking to those at 4 Wing. She will also be participating in a local candidates debate being held by the Cold Lake Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 7.

“I feel pretty confident that the NDP as a party is really making a break through across Canada,” said Lepine. “We have a lot of excellent candidates from coast to coast. I am really grateful for the support I am receiving so far throughout my ridding and I am ready to get things excited and moving forward.”