Dene Nation and Gwich'in Tribal Council get federal funding boost

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The Dene Nation and the Gwich'in Tribal Council are sharing $848,597 in federal funding to support their efforts toward self-determination.

They are the only two Indigenous groups who are receiving funding in 2020-21 from the federal government's Nation Rebuilding Program, which supports Indigenous groups in rebuilding their governance structures as they move toward self-determination, the federal government said in a news release on Thursday.

Michael McLeod, MP for the Northwest Territories, and Gary Anandasangaree, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, also met virtually with the Dene Nation and the Gwich'in Tribal Council "to learn more about the work being undertaken in their nations and their unique priorities and needs," according to the release.

The Dene Nation will use the funding to support their work in establishing a Dene national voice, revising and finalizing their constitution and developing a unity agreement for Dene governments, said the release.

"The first step on the path to true reconciliation begins with Canada respecting the nation-to-nation relationship," said Norman Yakeleya, national chief of the Dene Nation.

"The Dene are at the helm of a new era, where we serve our local and regional governments, respect their jurisdictions, yet unite nationally to protect our people, ancestral lands, and inherent and Treaty rights."

He said the Dene look forward to working with the Sahtu, Gwich'in Akaitcho, Dehcho and Tlicho regions as they make their vision "come to fruition."

Funding for the Gwich'in Tribal Council will go toward developing community capacity as it prepares for self-government.

"The Gwich'in government negotiations and nation rebuilding efforts are ongoing as we work toward reconciliation," said Ken Smith, grand chief of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, in the release.

Since 2018, when the five-year $100-million Nation Rebuilding Program was initially announced, Indigenous communities and groups in the Northwest Territories have received more than $2 million in funding.