Voters head to the polls on self-government deal in Northern Canadian community

Deline, N.W.T. The community has been in self-government negotiations for almost 20 years.  (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)
Deline, N.W.T. The community has been in self-government negotiations for almost 20 years. (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)
The Deline First Nation in Canada’s Northwest Territories is voting this week on a deal that could create the first community-based self-government in the territory.

Polls are open in Deline on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Deline First Nation has been pushing hard to get out the vote, asking its some 700 members to show their support for the agreement, including almost half of the First Nation’s members who don’t live in Deline.

More than half of the First Nation’s membership has to vote yes to seal the deal. Not voting is essentially the same as a no vote.

The community is flying charter flights from Yellowknife on Wednesday to make sure as many people as possible cast their ballots.

The deal stems from the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim document signed in 1992 by the Sahtu regional government. That document sets out that each Sahtu Community would negotiate their own self-government agreement, and so far Deline is the community closest to a final agreement.

Deline’s agreement-in-principle was signed on Aug. 23 last year. If ratified, the deal would become a treaty in the eyes of the federal government. Members of Deline would become citizens of Deline.

The agreement will amalgamate the three bodies that currently govern the community into one governing body called the Deline Gotine Government. It will hold power over things like liquor and gaming regulation, language and culture, education, adoption, social housing, income support, tourism and land use planning.

Related Links:

Canada: Quebec Inuit Vote Against Self-Government Plan, CBC News

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