The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is receiving $474,000 in federal funding over four fiscal years to put towards supporting the revitalization of Indigenous legal systems through the YKDFN Rebuilding Project.
Dettah Chief Edward Sangris says the project serves as a model on how First Nations can move forward from the Indian Act by revitalizing Indigenous legal traditions.
Through the project, YKDFN will establish the legal and governance infrastructure needed to shift to an Indigenous Dene system of law and governance.
The project will involve consulting Dene Knowledge holders to distill knowledge on traditional laws, governance and legal traditions; developing a governance framework to shift to a traditional system of law and government; and establishing a constitution for the YKDFN.
Sangris says the agreement is a step towards recognizing that the Yellowknives Dene were self-governing within their ancestral lands, and that Indigenous laws applied to these lands and the people living on them, in the same way that all other peoples of the world are governed by their own laws.
“This is a promising step towards a future where our right to self-governance is a reality for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation,” he adds.
The funding will also contribute to a movement for other First Nations transitioning to self-government by establishing a blueprint for practicing law and governance recognizing indigenous traditions.
Sangris says this commitment from the federal government marks a crucial step down the shared path of reconciliation.
“It demonstrates their recognition of a shared commitment to a healthy and independent Yellowknives Dene First Nation,” he adds.
NWT MP Michael McLeod says the funding will support this important work and help to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Yellowknife.
“I am proud of the work undertaken by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to revitalize legal and governance traditions within their community,” he adds.