The small community of Déline, N.W.T., is making plans for a celebration in June to mark the unofficial end of self-government negotiations with the federal and territorial governments.
Leaders in the Sahtu Dene hamlet of 700, located on the southwestern tip of Great Bear Lake, say they should have a self-government deal signed and ratified in about a year and a half.
If it's ratified by Ottawa, Déline will become the first jurisdiction in Canada with a community-based self-government agreement, community officials say.
An agreement on federal transfer payments into the community, as well as an implementation plan, are all that remains on the negotiation table, Déline chief negotiator Danny Gaudet told CBC News.
"We anticipate finishing those agreements in August," Gaudet said. "Sometime before the new year or shortly after the new year, we can initial [the agreement]."
Déline is already part of the Sahtu Dene Council, a regional aboriginal government that was formed when the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement was signed in 1998. Déline's community self-government agreement builds on the Sahtu agreement.
If the Déline agreement is ratified, the people there — known as Delinegot'ine in the Slavey language — will have control over territorial-level services such as education, health, social services, justice, language and culture.
"If you look at every current law that's in place with the territorial or federal government, it doesn't take into consideration the cultures and the traditions of the people," Gaudet said.
"You know, there's cultures and traditions that should be found in the social programs, inclusion in the schools definitely, and in the health systems. And you don't see any of that."
The hamlet already is looking at ways to reorganize its local programs. For a small community to be governing areas such as justice and family services from one local office will make such services more efficient, Gaudet said.
The June celebration, which will be held in the community, will include a commemorative handshake among all the negotiating parties to signify the conclusion of talks.