Chief Kenny Cayen is new Dehcho First Nations grand chief

Chief Kenny Cayen was elected at the 28th Dehcho Annual assembly underway in Fort Providence, N.W.T. The new grand chief will be taking on the fight to self-govern on Dehcho lands amid a significant anniversary.

The new grand chief will be taking on the fight for self-government on Dehcho lands

Kenny Cayen is the new grand chief of Dehcho First Nations in the Northwest Territories. (Anna Desmarais/CBC)

Kenny Cayen of West Point First Nation was elected as Dehcho grand chief on Thursday.

Cayen was elected at the 28th Dehcho annual assembly, which began on Wednesday in Fort Providence, N.W.T.

In a news release, Dehcho First Nations said a call for nominations was put out 40 days before the due date to submit nomination packages. Three people submitted packages, but the election committee reported that two of the packages were "not finalized by the due date" of June 4.

"As a result, Dehcho leadership decided to open the discussion on whether to elect Chief Kenneth Cayen through acclamation" to the general assembly, reads the release.

It goes on to say that after several hours of discussion, the assembly came to a consensus "to acclaim West Point First Nation Chief Kenneth Cayen to the position of Grand Chief."

The outgoing grand chief, Gladys Norwegian,who was elected in 2018, announced in an earlier statement that she would not be seeking re-election. 

The new grand chief will be taking on key issues for the region, including negotiations for the Dehcho Process, the land claim and self-government negotiations that have been underway since the 1990s. 

The election comes amid a significant anniversary for the First Nations's legal, cultural and political rights. This July will mark 100 years since Treaty 11 was signed.

A fire feeding ceremony marked the beginning of the gathering which will continue until Friday. There were also youth talent shows and events scheduled, along with drum dances and bingo each evening of the gathering.

The Dehcho First Nations include First Nations throughout the southern N.W.T., including Deh Gáh Got'îê First Nation in Fort Providence, Tthets'éhk'edélî First Nation in Jean Marie River, Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa, Łı́ı́dlı̨ Kų́e First Nation in Fort Simpson, Nahæâ Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte, Pehdzeh Ki First Nation in Wrigley, Sambaa K'e First Nation in Sambaa K'e, West Point First Nation in West Point, the Fort Providence Métis Council in Fort Providence and the Fort Simpson Métis in Fort Simpson.


  • This story was updated Friday morning to explain how Grand Chief Kenny Cayen was elected. An earlier version did not include details on the acclamation process. The story has also been updated to include the names of the First Nations that make up the Dehcho First Nation.
    Jun 25, 2021 8:41 AM CT