Members of the Dehcho Annual Assembly in 2022. Caitrin Pilkington/Cabin Radio
Last month, the 2023 Dehcho Annual Assembly was scheduled for the second week of December after a series of delays. Now, the event has moved again to December 4-7 in Fort Simpson, according to Grand Chief Herb Norwegian.
“Since June we were trying to get our assembly off the ground. Of course, fire had moved in, smoke, and people were moving around,” said Norwegian. “It was a flexible thing. All the bits and pieces have to fall into place.”
After months of rescheduling, planning and deliberation, Norwegian says the assembly will now go ahead this winter in Fort Simpson.
“We were looking at the week of the 14th here in Simpson, but then we were dealing with Arctic Winter Games trials here. So, we tried to negotiate … but that didn’t work out,” said Norwegian. “Then we found out that the first week of December is actually open, so we jumped on that.”
“We made that decision about two, three weeks ago,” said Norwegian. “And we’re standing firm on that. We’re not going to budge at all.”
Previously, Norwegian had hoped to spend the first week of December in Ottawa meeting Gary Anandasangaree, who replaced Marc Miller as minister of Crown-Indigenous relations in July.
“We wanted to also have a discussion with the new minister,” Norwegian said. “We weren’t able to get back from him any dates or anything like that. So, now we’ll just go ahead with our assembly and maybe look at doing a visit maybe in January.
“We could also Zoom in the minister to the assembly, do a quick introduction, and just the purpose of why we needed to talk.”
The minister’s office said it had received Norwegian’s request for a meeting and was looking into the prospect of a virtual meeting in the future.
Norwegian confirmed the new Dehcho Assembly date means he also won’t be attending an Assembly of First Nations meeting that he said was “right around that time in Ottawa.” A new AFN chief is due to be chosen.
“We thought maybe we’d be able to sneak in there and be part of the assembly and selecting the new national chief,” said Norwegian. “Now, I’ll be doing the assembly here in Fort Simpson.”
“I hope that everybody is relieved now that we’ve got some snow on the ground and the smoke has pretty-well gone,” he added.
“This is a good time to come back together and regroup, and just thankful that nobody got hurt and that the land is still as beautiful as ever.”