Deline is just one week away from determining the fate of 18 years of negotiations that have the community poised to become the first in the NWT to achieve self government.
Last week, advance polling booths set up in Yellowknife and Deline saw an estimated 20 per cent of the community members turn out to vote – a “good” showing, according to Danny Gaudet, chief negotiator for Deline.
“I haven’t heard anything in terms of any problems or issues,” Gaudet told The Journal after the advanced polling closed Thursday.
The community is voting on the Deline Final Self Government Agreement (FSGA), which was signed by all sides of the negotiation table last December and now has only to be ratified by the Deline community, including those no longer living there.
In order to pass, 50 per cent plus one vote in favour is required from the community. Those who do not show up to vote are considered a “no” vote.
Gaudet said he’s been counting down the days to the final vote since December when they determined the polling days.
Negotiator predicts a passing vote
Acknowledging that he can’t say for sure, Gaudet said he is optimistic the community will vote in favour of self government.
“It’s in the hands of the people now, but we’ve had some positive feedback so I think we are going to be OK,” he said. “I think it’s going to pass.”
Gaudet said much of his reassurance is stemming from the community’s reaction to the massive communication campaign launched in January to get word out about the vote, both online and in person.
The campaign organizers travelled to Inuvik, Wrigley, Tulita, Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, Behchoko, Whati, Yellowknife, Fort Providence, Fort Smith, Hay River and Edmonton.
“We talked to a lot of people about the agreement, addressed any questions people had or any concerns, and we have not heard one negative response to the agreement itself, so generally it went really well,” Gaudet said.
The results of the vote will be made public on the evening of Wednesday, Mar. 12, after the final voting booths close at 8:00 p.m. and the numbers are crunched. Gaudet said he expects to hear the final word by around 10:00 p.m.
“We’ll know that night. I’m excited that we’re in the process and we are getting this close,” he said.
Constitution passes with 99 per cent
Last week, the Deline government passed the community’s first constitution, a requirement of the self government agreement, with 99 per cent in favour.
The constitution lays out the principles, laws, structure and accountability of the future Deline Got’ine Government. It also spells out who is a Deline citizen and determines the official languages as English and the Delinie Got’ine dialect.
The constitution, passed with several small amendments such as font adjustments, will be made public next week.
For locations and times of the polls open Mar. 10 to 12, go online to http://www.ourdeline.ca/