Coming to your town soon
Schedule shaping up for consultation on western constitution

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 03/97) - After a stormy reception followed by months of silence, debate on the western constitution is about to fire up again.

Public consultation on the controversial draft package, released Oct. 16, will begin next week.

"We're going into every community, and we're trying to do that by the end of March," said constitutional working group executive director Fred Koe.

Completing consultations by the end of March was one of the conditions the federal government placed on funding the process. Last month Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Jim Antoine said it would be impossible to meet that demand.

The federal government, said Antoine, also expressed concerns with the main model proposed in the draft package. Antoine emphasized three models were presented, and everything is still open to debate.

Under a funding agreement finalized last month, the federal government is contributing $175,000 to the consultation process, and the GNWT $122,000.

"We're looking at covering the (Mackenzie) Delta communities during the week of March 10," said Koe.

"We're still waiting for communities to confirm dates, but early in the week is Inuvik, then we go to Aklavik, then over to McPherson and Tsiigehtchic."

Koe said consultation will be held in Deh Cho communities the same time and flow into the following week.

The four Yellowknife MLAs will be hosting the capital's community consultation March 18.

Koe said six facilitators have been hired to run the consultations. The working group is also trying to arrange the meetings to include the local MLA, aboriginal summit leaders and members of the constitutional working group.

"I was hoping to have the dates finalized today," Koe said Friday. "But there have been lots of complications. It's carnival time in a lot of communities. MLAs are in session, the aboriginal leaders are busy with other things."