Pay hike for chiefs
Pay hike defended as long overdue

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 31/00) - The chiefs of the two Yellowknives Dene First Nation got a 75 per cent pay hike earlier this year.

The salaries of Ndilo Chief Peter Liske and Dettah Chief Richard Edjericon jumped from $40,000 to $70,000 a year as a result of a Feb. 1 band council decision.

Liske said that in reaching consensus on the raise, the band council recognized the raise was long overdue. He said the salaries have remained the same for the last 14 or 15 years while the workload has steadily increased.

"It's not like the old days, 15 or 20 years ago, when people only came in when there was a celebration or something," said Liske. "Today it's a full-time job."

In recent years, the chiefs and band council have had to deal with issues that were not part of band business in the old days, issues such as intergovernmental forums, aboriginal leaders' summits, environmental assessments and the ongoing border dispute with the Dogribs.

Liske said the band council reviewed a list of the salaries of chiefs from other bands and comparable positions of authority -- such as the premier and cabinet ministers -- in public government in making its decision.

"Every other chief in the Mackenzie Valley -- look at Grand Chief Joe Rabesca, he's making over $100,000 -- other chiefs are making pretty well the same level and here we've always been the same," said Liske.

Liske said increasing compensation to band councillors was discussed at the same meeting, but no decision was made on it.

Dettah chief Richard Edjericon was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The Yellowknives are also creating a new communications position. Former Yellowknifer reporter Dane Gibson will be working for the band as a media consultant. In addition to advising the band on media relations, Gibson will be producing a newsletter and helping in the design and establishment of a Yellowknives Web site.

One of the decisions to be made is whether band council meetings will be open to people who are not band members.

A Yellowknifer reporter stopped in to a council meeting last week but was not permitted to sit in. At the time Chief Edjericon said the visit took the council by surprise, since no reporter had ever shown up for a band council meeting before.

He said the band council would require time to consider whether the meetings will be open to members of the media who are not part of the band.