Herb Norwegian will be Grand Chief of the Dehcho First Nations for a fifth time, defeating Tim Lennie in a first round of voting and Jim Antoine in round two.
Norwegian returns to the role having previously become the grand chief in 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2015. He replaces Stanley Sanguez, who served as interim grand chief since March after former leader Kenneth Cayen was removed in a vote of no confidence.
On Tuesday, Norwegian promised delegates at the Dehcho Annual Assembly he would bring a fierce approach to the negotiating table, placing the signing of the Dehcho land claim front and centre of his bid.
“The land is the most important part of it,” Norwegian told delegates. “The government is trying to make their grabs, and we are not doing everything in our power to block these efforts.
“We will not hear government offers any more. We will be making them an offer.”
Asked for his three highest priorities as leader, Norwegian listed taking care of the land, caring for young people, and the provision of education in both the ways of the land and the Western world.
Several Elders expressed appreciation that Norwegian has lived on the land and still hunts and traps in the traditional way. Some delegates said they believed him capable of putting together a claim the NWT government would recognize and ratify.
The vote was held late on Tuesday afternoon at an assembly being hosted by the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation in Fort Simpson.
The result of the first ballot, which eliminated former Pehdzeh Ki First Nation chief Lennie, led to a walkout of the Pehdzeh Ki delegation. Earlier, the First Nation’s delegates had expressed concern about the direction being taken by the Dehcho First Nations.
The second ballot saw Norwegian receive 32 votes to former NWT premier Antoine’s 25.