Nominations for the election of the national chief of the Dene Nation opened on July 21.

The successful candidate will also become regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations (of Canada).

Alan Cash, returning officer for the election said that the election is to take place at the 51st Dene National Assembly in Fort Simpson Sept. 14 to 16.

“My role is independent party hired to oversee the logistics of the process,” he said. “We opened the nominations and then I will oversee when the day comes the count comes.”

The role of National Chief has been held by Norman Yakeleya since he was elected for the first time in August 2018 has not said whether he will be running again for another term.

Yakeleya wasn’t available this week to speak to the election and his potential candidacy.

Cash also wouldn’t say if any candidates have put their names in for the position to date.

According to Dene Nation bylaws, any Dene adult citizen who resides in the Northwest Territories can put their name forward to run for the position provided they have five nominees – two of which must be made by community chiefs.

Voting will take place at the annual Dene National Assembly in Fort Simpson on Sept. 15.

All votes are cast by delegates who are selected through a process outlined in the Dene Nation bylaws.

“So the voting will take place at the annual general assembly and delegates to the assembly will be the voters,” Cash said. “Only the delegates can vote.”

There are about 350 delegates who are eligible to vote, but that the number varies from year to year and that the final figure has not yet been reported.

“Each community chief is entitled to vote as a delegate by virtue of office they hold,” Cash explained. “Each community has a minimal of three votes.”

Each of the five regional chiefs have a vote, too.

At the 2018 election, which took place in Hay River at the Dene National Assembly, there were 243 eligible voters and 232 people actually cast ballots.

Cash said that the number of eligible voters is expected to be higher this year, but that it could be for a number of different reasons.

“The difference between eligible delegates and actual voters really comes down to who attends the assembly,” he said in an email.

“While a particular community might be allotted X number of delegates, the number that attend the assembly may be less owing to travel arrangements, competing community and traditional events, fires, health, graduations, etc.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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