Many Heartbeats, One Dene Drum
Winter is a time for reflection and renewal. As we wait for the last snowflakes to fall and spring to return, I take this time to reflect on what the Dene Elders said to me – Ensure our Dene Nations remain united. As Dene National Chief, this is my priority, while acknowledging the sovereignty of each of our Dene nations. With the support of the Grand Chiefs and Chiefs in all five regions, together we provide an integrated Dene voice for our people.
In order to ensure the Dene Nation’s mandate is consistent with the Dene communities, we needed to reform the Constitution and By-Laws. The Constitution is a broader statement that speaks to our objectives as Dene Nation’s; By-Laws are the processes to guide the day-to-day operations. I mandated the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) to provide me with recommendations and proposed changes to the current Constitution and By-Laws. To support the Chair, Georges Erasmus, the co-Chair, Herb Norwegian, I have appointed 5 representatives from each region: Sam Gargon, Dehcho; Florence Catholique, Akaitcho; Betha Rabesca Zoe, Tłı̨chǫ; Danny Gaudet, Sahtu; and, Neil Pascal, Gwichin.
We have shared this land since time immemorial and together we share common characteristics: Our lands were gifted to us, and it is our responsibility to ensure it is sustained for the future generations; our relationships, we do not separate ourselves from our land relatives: the animals, the waters, the air, Creator and the Ancestors; Our stories are sacred. Our ancestors have used story to teach us the Dene Laws, our history, laws, values and appropriate cultural behaviour; and finally, our governing structures are distinctive. We are a cooperative people; we value our partnerships and strive to ensure that all abide by strong cultural principles of respect and trust. Our decision-making processes involve the whole community, with special attention to those affected by the outcome. The way we relate, understand and interpret our Lands, Relationships, Stories and Decision-Making processes marks common characteristics of being Dene.
We have successfully governed lands, the animals and ourselves since the beginning of time. We’ve worked synergistically, always making sure that we include leaders, Elders and community members to make decisions. We the Dene of Denendeh look towards a future where we work together to determine a future for all.