The federal government is providing the Dene Nation and Gwich’in Tribal Council a combined $848,597 “in support of their respective efforts toward self-determination.”
The funding was announced in a news release on Thursday. The money is part of a broader federal initiative, the Nation Rebuilding Program, under which $100 million is being provided across Canada over five years.
Different Indigenous groups are receiving funding in different years. Ottawa said the Dene Nation and Gwich’in Tribal Council were the NWT’s recipients for the 2020-21 financial year.
The Dene Nation is expected to use its funding to work toward “establishing a Dene national voice” while finalizing its constitution and developing a “unity agreement” for Dene governments, the news release stated.
“The Dene Nation is pleased with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations for supporting our vision of self-determination,” said Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya in the same news release.
“The Dene are at the helm of a new era, where we serve our local and regional governments, respect their jurisdictions, yet unite nationally to protect our people, ancestral lands, and inherent and treaty rights.”
The Gwich’in Tribal Council will use its share of the funding to improve governance and develop capacity in communities ahead of self-government.
“The Gwich’in Government negotiations and nation rebuilding efforts are ongoing as we work toward reconciliation,” said Ken Smith, Grand Chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the federal and territorial governments on these important matters for the betterment of our people and a stronger future for our Nation.”
The exact sums awarded to the Dene Nation and Gwich’in Tribal Council were not disclosed. Since 2018, the federal government says, Indigenous groups in the NWT have received more than $2 million from the Nation Rebuilding Program.
Ottawa says the money will help Indigenous groups “rebuild their governance structures on the path toward self-determination.”
Reconstitution of Indigenous groups as nations was a recommendation of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
The federal government said the same objective was outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada is seeking to formalize the UN Declaration’s position in Canadian law through new legislation.