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New president selected for Ehdiitat Gwich'in

Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 20, 2012

Danny Greenland was elected president of the Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council Feb. 13 through a private vote by the council's six newest members.

Greenland, who is also currently serving as chief of the Aklavik Indian Band, said he intends to bring transparency, increased public involvement and scheduled elections to the Gwich'in organization.

"I never wanted to be a politician but someone has to do something at some point, and no one was standing up to bat so I took it upon myself," he said.

After holding the same office for a decade, past president Charlie Furlong called an election in late November.

On Jan. 30 beneficiaries cast their ballot and elected a completely new council.

Two weeks later, the councillors voted for a president and vice-president, Greenland and Eugene Pascal, who will now also serve on the Gwich'in Tribal Council's board of directors.

In two years the entire council in Aklavik will face re-election, Greenland said.

"We're going to be totally accountable to the membership and just carry on our regular duties as per the bylaws," he said.

"There were bylaws always in place, but they were never followed or adhered to. That's the (Gwich'in Tribal Council), that's one of the beefs I had with them. They didn't care, you know, they weren't accountable themselves."

Greenland said he will hold regular public meetings and look to his colleagues with other Gwich'in organizations for advice, especially in Inuvik and Fort McPherson, where the leaders act as heads of both the Gwich'in council and Indian band.

"It's something that we wanted to copy, and do that type of leadership in Aklavik, and we're well on our way," he said.

"I'm going to be wearing two hats here. We'll figure it out and do the transition and learn as we go."

The new president said voter turnout on Jan. 30, which sat at 40 per cent, was something he hoped to improve by the next election in 2014.

Some eligible voters have since left the community, he said, and others were left off the list.

"A lot of people that could have voted didn't. They just weren't on the list. So that kept the numbers down," he said. "I'll get that list straightened out, for sure."

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