Deline voters head to the polls on self-government deal

Polls are open today, tomorrow and Wednesday for members of the Deline First Nation to vote on a final self-government agreement.

If ratified, agreement would create N.W.T.'s first community-based self-government

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

The Deline First Nation in the 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.