OTTAWA, Dec. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - An important milestone has been reached yesterday in the community of Délı̨nę with the initialling of the Délı̨nę Final Self-Government Agreement (FSGA). This brings this community closer to having control over the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives, including how programs and services will be delivered.
"Today Délı̨nę is taking a major step toward self-determination and shows Canada is making progress on its northern strategy," said Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. "Self-government is an important tool that can help create a more positive and stable environment for investment and growth, and give the community greater control over its future."
"Aboriginal governments are critical partners in helping the Government of the Northwest Territories create a strong, prosperous NWT that provides opportunities in all our communities and regions," said Bob McLeod, Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations for the Government of the Northwest Territories. "Initialing is an important step in Délı̨nę's journey towards self-government. We support the establishment of strong Aboriginal governments to work with us to advance the interests of all people of the territory."
The Délı̨nę FSGA is the first self-government agreement in the Northwest Territories to be negotiated alongside an existing land claim agreement. The FSGA builds upon the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement where the parties agreed that the Sahtu communities could each negotiate self-government at the community level.
"This agreement has been 18 years in the making. With the guidance of our Elders, our negotiation team stayed the course to get this done right for our people," said Délı̨nę First Nation Chief Leonard Kenny. "With this agreement we will finally be able to make decisions here at the community level. I think that will make a real difference in peoples' lives."
The Délı̨nę FSGA will create a new government for the Délı̨nę District and bring together the authorities, programs and services of the Charter Community, the Délı̨nę Land Corporation and the Délı̨nę First Nation.
"Having just one government for Délı̨nę will allow us to do more for our beneficiaries and all residents," said Gina Dolphus, President of the Délı̨nę Land Corporation. "I encourage all eligible voters to take the time to learn about this agreement and ask their questions so they can make an informed decision."
The Délı̨nę FSGA also contains a wide range of powers that will give the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Délı̨nę more control over the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives, including how programs and services will be delivered. The Délı̨nę FSGA covers responsibilities in the areas of culture, language, education, social services, governing structures, Délı̨nę First Nation citizenship, elections, and local government services.
The Délı̨nę FSGA must first be voted on by members of the Délı̨nę First Nation and beneficiaries of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement who are registered with the Délı̨nę Land Corporation. These individuals can vote on the Délı̨nę FSGA regardless of where they live. The Délı̨nę FSGA will then need to be approved by both the Government of Northwest Territories and Canada and given force and effect through territorial and federal legislation.
The Délı̨nę ratification vote is planned for March 10 to 12, 2014, in Délı̨nę and Yellowknife. There will also be a mail-in ballot and advance polls arranged to ensure everyone has a chance to vote.
Backgrounder: Délı̨nę Final Self-Government Agreement
This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca.
SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada