Three candidates will run to become the next permanent Grand Chief of the Dehcho First Nations, interim grand chief Stanley Sanguez confirmed, after applications closed on May 27.
The election will take place during the last week of June in Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation, the site of the 2022 Dehcho Annual Assembly.
Candidates include Herb Norwegian, who held the position of grand chief on various occasions between 2003 and 2015, Jim Antoine, a former premier of the Northwest Territories and former chief of the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation, and Tim Lennie, former chief of Pehdzeh Ki First Nation.
A fourth hopeful, Ernest Tonka, was said to have been missing paperwork at the time of the deadline. The CBC reported Tonka is protesting the nomination process.
Sanguez believes the ability to effectively negotiate during land claim talks with the GNWT should be top of mind for those considering each leader. Even more important, he says, will be the ability to listen to what communities want and be a voice for the region.
“Every grand chief that gets elected must be guided by communities,” he said.
“They have to be a good listener. Over the years, some chiefs have said, you know, ‘I’m the boss, this is what I’m going to do. I don’t need to talk to you guys.’ But the people who put you in power can take it away from you.”
The election comes following the removal of previous grand chief Kenneth Cayen earlier this year.
Sanguez says he was not tempted to throw his own hat in the ring; the role brought a heavy weight of responsibility, and he’s looking forward to having more time with his grandson.
Correction: June 9, 2022 – 12:44 MT. This article initially stated that the 2022 Dehcho Annual Assembly will take place in West Point.