“I thought to myself, maybe it’s time to get involved more to shape what the future looks like, so that there’s a future for the kids.”
Danny Gaudet is the Délįnę Got’įnę Government’s newest Ɂek’wahtı̨dǝ́, or leader. He and six councillors were elected to four-year terms on Wednesday. Those terms take effect from September 1.
Gaudet received 129 votes to incumbent Ɂek’wahtı̨dǝ́ Leeroy Andre’s 100. The government has posted the results to Facebook.
“Although I didn’t run for office previously, I’ve always been involved in the community one way or another, whether it’s through youth sports or just assisting people with their issues at home and talking to them individually,” said Gaudet.
“When I look at communities, I always think about my children, myself, and what they’ve got to look forward to – that’s how I measure things.”
The six new councillors are Raymond Tutcho, Leonard Kenny, Gina Dolphus, Raymond Taneton, Christopher Yukon, and Jonas Modeste. This was Délįnę’s second election since becoming a self-governing community in 2016.
A self-governing community
Gaudet was Délįnę’s chief negotiator for nearly two decades in reaching a self-government agreement with the federal and territorial governments. Now, he will navigate the system as the Sahtu community’s leader.
He told Cabin Radio the power of a self-governing community lies in being able to control and design programs that fit the needs of the people, rather than have what he says are systems delivering programs and services independent of each other.
With regular governing systems, “you try to shape-shift and try to change people to fit within the program,” he said, and if you don’t fit, you don’t qualify.
Gaudet’s three focuses for the immediate future will be healthcare, housing, and education.
“I’m not saying it’s bad,” said Gaudet, “Just, how do we take it to another level if we wanted to go to another level? Those are the areas that have direct impact on people immediately.”
Gaudet said he has been looking at housing since 1992 and feels he is “finally in a position to say, ‘let’s get this done.’”
“If you’ve got a strong home and a healthy home, people will advance, people will step up, people will show up, and I’ve always thought that if we work towards that, I think, our people will feel good about themselves again and start moving forward,” said Gaudet.
Beyond those issues, Gaudet said his goal is to build something to which the next generation can look forward.
“I learned from the Elders: everything’s about our youth and our next generation. They’re not saying ‘let’s build recreation facilities,’ it’s about leaving a structure of respect for land, culture, traditions, and now our existing models of governance, and to do something for them so that they’ve got something to look forward to after we’re all gone,” said Gaudet.
“The other big goal, I guess, is to try to leave it in a way that others can keep going, ‘we’re OK,’ for the next 100,000 years.”