After over three years of paperwork and petitioning, the Charter Community of Tsiigehtchic is finally getting upgraded to a full hamlet.

GNWT communications advisor Jay Boast said the process formally got underway on Feb. 2, 2023.

“This change will result in two distinct and separate government structures: a hamlet council and a band council,” he said. “As a hamlet, the authority and operations of the community government would be more easily defined and separated, and all residents that are eligible to vote will be able to vote and or run for the mayor and councillor positions.”

A public consultation period has launched and runs for 180 days. That is expected to wrap up in August, but there is a second 90-day window for people to write their concerns or support for the idea to Municipal and Community Affairs. The deadline to submit feedback is May 3.

Tsiigehtchic has been seeking hamlet status since at least 2019. Then-senior administrative officer Grant Scott explained part of the motivation was under a charter community, there is no distinction between the band council and municipal council, but as a hamlet, the two bodies are separated. Currently, the Gwichya Gwich’in Band chief also serves as the community leader. Also, as a charter community, the band council is limited to band members, whereas a hamlet can elect any representative from the community to the municipal council.

“Whenever you have a band election, whoever is elected as chief is automatically mayor of the charter and three members who are elected to band council are automatically appointed to charter council,” said Scott at the time. “Then there’s a charter election where two additional councillors from the general public are elected. If we go to hamlet status, there would be two organizations, a hamlet council and a band council, not merged together in any way.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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