Youth delegates from Akaitcho communities gathered in Yellowknife last week for a workshop on negotiations.

photo courtesy of the Treaty 8 Tribal Corporation
Akaitcho chief negotiator Don Balsillie, left, stands with youth delegate Kyra Sangris, Treaty 8 Tribal Corp. communications officer Catherine Lafferty, as well as youth delegates Tori Lafferty, Dayna Drygeese, Honey Rain Catholique and Keegan Boucher, during a workshop in Yellowknife, May 27 to 28.

“It was more or less a crash course in Akaitcho negotiations – a 101 so to speak,” said Chief Ernest Betsina, of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in Ndilo.

Betsina was there at the start of the workshop, which ran May 27 to 28, for the opening prayer and to give a welcoming speech to the youth.

“I was hoping that the youth would learn and try to absorb as much information as they can and, if anything, they can pass interest to their peers, to their families, their friends,” said Betsina.

While he said packing 25 years of negotiations history into a two-day course is not an easy task – and neither is learning it – he said he was confident in the abilities of these “future leaders.”

“We’re hoping to spark interest in the youth, sort of like a youth movement so to speak,” he said.

photo courtesy of the Treaty 8 Tribal Corporation
Akaitcho chief negotiator Don Balsillie helps lead a workshop on Akaitcho negotiations for youth in Yellowknife May 27 to 28.

Dayna Drygeese and Kyra Sangris represented the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Toni Lafferty represented the Deninu Kue First Nation, and Keegan Boucher and Honey Rain Catholique represented the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation.

With the help of Akaitcho chief negotiator Don Balsillie as well as community negotiators Archie Catholique and Fred Sangris, the youth learned the history of the treaties and the timeline and history of the Akaitcho negotiations process.

They also reviewed a draft of the Akaitcho agreement-in-principle.

Betsina said he believes there will be more recommendations coming forward not only for workshops like this, with more delegates from the Akaitcho communities, but a youth conference as well.

“I’m hoping we can build on this and certainly invite more youth and raise more interest,” said Betsina.

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