Gwich'in outside settlement area petition to save voting rights
Gwich'in members living outside the Gwich'in settlement area are worried they may be losing their right to vote for the leadership of their Tribal Council.
About 150 people have signed a petition aimed at protecting voting rights for members who aren't living in Inuvik, Aklavik or Fort McPherson, N.W.T.
Janet Koe, who lives in Edmonton, started the online petition. Koe says Gwich'in should have the right to vote no matter where they live.
The petition states that the Gwich'in Tribal Council and Designated Gwich'in Organizations are proposing new bylaws, one of which would restrict members living outside the Gwich'in Settlement Area from voting.
"It's important to us because that's our identity, no matter where we live," she said. "Other native organizations have signed self government and they have urban natives that are included in their self-government organizations and I think that's important.
"A lot of us will go back and a lot of us will be leaving for education or jobs and we are a part of the Gwich'in Tribal Council."
Koe said she believes the decision is part of the Gwich'in compliance with the federal not-for-profit corporations act. She said she believes the issue will be raised at the upcoming Gwich'in Assembly.
CBC News requested interviews with members of the Gwich'in Tribal Council this week, but no one has been made available.