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Hundreds gather for Tlicho gathering
Family activities complement serious talks about governance

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hundreds of Tlicho citizens from Gameti, Wekweeti, Whati and Behchoko were in Behchoko for the ninth Tlicho Annual Gathering from Aug 6 to 8.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tlicho members gather to listen and discuss issues with the Tlicho Government and the Tlicho Land Corporation on Aug. 7 at the Tlicho Assembly. - Lyndsay Herman/NNSL photo

The Gathering also coincided with the first session of the third Tlicho Assembly. During the assembly, the Tlicho Government and Tlicho Investment Corporation present their annual reports and discussed pending laws.

Time was set aside Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 for Tlicho citizens present at the assembly to address the government directly with questions or comments during a public forum.

Issues brought before the panel varied but many included recommendations or questions about how finances could be best spent to support Tlicho citizens.

One speaker asked for more benefits for Tlicho entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.

"Tlicho citizens need the support," he said, adding that training or funding programs would be useful and well as basic recognition of hard work.

"We could celebrate them at the annual gathering with an award."

Alex Nitsiza, chairperson of the Tlicho Investment Corporation, addressed the question and said he had "often wondered about that, too. Nitsiza said additional support for Tlicho private business was worth considering after investigating interest from citizens.

Those who were not at the gathering at Elizabeth Mackenzie School were able to listen to a live broadcast of the proceedings from benches in a tented area in front of the Behchoko Cultural Centre.

The cultural centre was a hub of activity for the gathering, home to a Feeding of the Fire ceremony, feasts on Aug. 5 and Aug. 8, an historical photo slideshow, and the arts and crafts market.

Children's activities were scheduled Aug. 6 to Aug. 9 in conjunction with a day camp that runs during the summer at the community arbour, located across from the cultural centre.

The wedding of Mabel Huskey and Henry Lafferty was celebrated with a drum dance and feast on Aug. 5.

Adult and youth activities were scheduled for the weekend, among them was a $20,000 bingo and live music on Aug. 9.

Keeping the community dry

Cheryl Lafferty was part of the security team that organized a check stop on the road into Behchoko. Donning bright red windbreakers as uniforms, the security group stopped the vehicles entering Behchoko, a dry community. Four security personnel who were on two-hour shifts checked every vehicle for alcohol and drugs during the annual gathering.

The teams frequently heard compliments and words of thanks from drivers, often in lines of one to five cars, for the work they were doing.

Lafferty and her team said the check stops do help prevent issues arising from alcohol or drugs.

It was a busy job. The check stop was open for the duration of the gathering's activities, which involved a lot of standing in hot weather. Lafferty said there were so many cars during her two-hour shift in the late afternoon on Aug. 7, she and the team had no time to sit down between cars.

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