The Dene Nation again called on the NWT government to consider its 27 chiefs’ request to ration alcohol across the territory in a bid to combat bootlegging in communities.
Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya said on Tuesday he and other Dene leaders were perplexed by what he considered to be the inaction of the territorial government.
The NWT government did not “seem to be listening to the reality of what’s happening in our small communities,” Yakeleya said on Tuesday.
“We know that the Government of the Northwest Territories is a roadblock in our well-being in our communities. And so we want to look at this roadblock. And so we have a plan as to how we deal with the roadblock.”
Yakeleya said the Dene Nation had contacted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other federal ministers in the hope of receiving additional, direct funding. Some money has already been released by Ottawa to help Indigenous governments in the NWT.
“There is a plan ahead of us and we are working on that plan,” he said.
Late last week, finance minister Caroline Wawzonek said communities without any form of prohibition in place could utilize temporary prohibitions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her department would not implement any territory-wide restrictions on the purchase of alcohol, she said.
“We recognize that decisions about how to manage alcohol within a community are those that we would like to encourage be made by community leadership,” Wawzonek said.
“The Liquor Act provides a variety of tools to municipal and band governments to allow them to make their own decision and best respond to the specific needs of their residents.”
At least four NWT communities have so far applied for a temporary prohibition.
“Every community is doing what it needs to do in their own unique way to protect their people,” Yakeleya said.