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'They just push everything down our throats': Sangris
Dettah chief upset with the electoral boundary changes, says consensus government isn't working

Candace Thomson
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 18, 2013

Two communities affected by a recent change in electoral boundaries plan to fight the decision which one chief says ignored the wishes of his people.

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Dettah Chief Ed Sangris says Yellowknives Dene First Nations are not happy with the new riding. - YouTube screenshot

Dettah Chief Ed Sangris, of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, is unhappy that Dettah and Ndilo are being thrown into the riding previously known as Tu Nedhe now NWT 3.

"I guess that the consensus government doesn't work in the territories ... they just push everything down our throat," Sangris said.

"(The GNWT) said they'll keep it the same and then lump us in with them."

Sangris said when the Electoral Boundaries Commission went into the communities, they heard concerns from residents and unambiguous statements informing the commission they did not want to be lumped in with Tu Nedhe.

Fort Resolution or Lutsel K'e the two communities which comprised the Tu Nedhe riding are primarily home to Chipewyan people who do not speak the same traditional language as the Yellowknives Dene.

"When the Commission came we told then that we wanted to stay the same, and instead of calling it the Weledeh riding we'd call it the Chief Drygeese riding," Sangris said.

None of that happened, the voices of the people weren't heard and now they are frustrated, he said.

"We're planning to make it known that we're not satisfied, it's passed in the assembly and they indicated to us that before it becomes a reality we have until next year to voice our concerns" Sangris said.

"So that's what we're going to do, hopefully before the next election."

During the electoral boundaries debate in the legislative assembly Nov. 5, MLAs from Yellowknife and Minister Tom Beaulieu, who is also the MLA for Tu Nedhe, made it known that none of the communities involved support the change.

"It has been pointed out by several members that both Ndilo and Dettah are not happy about moving into Tu Nedhe and Tu Nedhe are not happy about having Ndilo and Dettah in there with them," said Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro.

"So we're creating a riding where we have four communities who don't necessarily want to be in the same place at the same time."

Beaulieu said he understands the frustrations.

"(Dettah and Ndilo) don't want to become a part of a riding outside of Yellowknife. They see Yellowknife as their homeland," he said.

Sangris said he doesn't understand why the commission lumped them in with Tu Nedhe.

"This government isn't really working with the people, it's take it or leave it," he said.

"If our ancestors knew they were going to work that way, they never would have said have a peace treaty and we'll live side by side with you. The government don't care about our grievances."

Along with the disapproval of the Yellowknives Dene, the electoral boundary change does not satisfy the concerns of city activist Bill Aho.

He says when the assembly chose to accept the 19-seat option one of three choices available nothing was done to address the issue of under-representation in the capital.

"Basically they haven't done much in the way of making any changes," he said.

"And the changes they have made do not come close to allowing fair representation for the residents of Yellowknife."

Aho said changing the boundaries without increasing the number of MLAs which would have happened with the 21-seat option is still leaving Yellowknife under-represented.

"I don't think what they're currently doing is looking to provide fair representation," Aho said.

"What they're looking for is systematic under-representation for the people in Yellowknife to make sure their voice is less in the legislative assembly."

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