Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brandon Norwegian, foreground, and Terence Menicoche listen to an English translation of proceedings at the Deh Cho Assembly in Kakisa.

Politics through young eyes

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Kakisa (July 09/04) - They're the future that elected leaders refer to quite regularly. Members of the next generation -- dozens of youth -- were sitting around the arbour during the Deh Cho Assembly last week.

Self-government, a Deh Cho constitution, land management and resource royalties are pretty complex concepts. So what do these young folks make of what they heard?

"I think they're arguing about what they should do for us," was Terence Menicoche's take on Wednesday's discussions at the leadership table.

Menicoche, 15, couldn't exactly put his finger on what was so contentious.

His friend, Brandon Norwegian, also 15, said he wants the chiefs to use their power to improve education. How can the curriculum be made better?

"I don't know, they can deal with that," Norwegian replied.

Like Menicoche, Michael James Landry said he heard verbal conflict in the arbour: "fighting over land, oil and gas." Landry, 21, said he would like to be a politician one day. That way he'll be able to learn more about the people in southern Canada, such as their motives and their interests in Deh Cho lands.

Darwin Norwegian, 17, agreed that it would be "pretty interesting" to be an elected official. He said he's supportive of the Dehcho First Nations' initiatives to protect the environment.

"I'd like to see what they're talking about come true," said Norwegian.

Wesley Hardisty is employed by the First Nation as a geographic information systems technician. At age 23, he's also the Deh Cho organizer for the Dene Youth Alliance and a representative on Assembly of First Nations' national youth council.

He said his curiosity about politics sprouted when he went south to further his education and he began getting a sense of what other NWT land claim groups have accomplished.

He has reviewed the First Nation's proposed options for a Dene public government.

He said he's generally satisfied with the ideas put forward for Deh Cho citizenship and voting rights, but he acknowledged that recommendations might need a little refining to be widely accepted.

For those youths who couldn't care less about politics, Hardisty said it's best that they become familiar with leaders' visions and the trails they have blazed, otherwise, "We have to pick up the pieces of whatever's leftover."