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NWT’s first self-government celebrates

NWT Premier Bob McLeod takes part in a drum dance in Deline last March at the community gathering to celebrate the settling of their self-government agreement. © GNWT

The new Deline Got’ine government celebrated their beginning in September, kicking off a week of festivities in the Great Bear Lake community. It has the distinction of becoming the Northwest Territories’ first self-governed community, and Canada’s first Indigenous/ public self-government at the community level.

Hundreds of people attended to share drum dancing, songs and stories, including dignitaries, federal MP Michael McLeod, NWT Premier Bob McLeod, and Gwich’in Tribal Council president Bobbie Jo Greenland Morgan.

All of the elected councillors speak North Slavey, and elected positions and activities will be officially North Slavey, the official language of the new government. Raymond Tutcho, instead of being called ‘chief,’ will lead the Deline Got’ine government as its ʔekw’ahtı̨dé (‘highest honest leader’).

The government will assume control of all residents — First Nation or not — and eventually be responsible for all community affairs, including education, health care and social housing.