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Yellowknives elect new Dettah chief

Jennifer Obleman
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 10, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - The race for Dettah chief was nearly neck and neck, but longtime band councillor Edward Sangris ended up ahead by a nose.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Sally Drygeese congratulates her uncle Edward Sangris on his victory in Tuesday night's election. Sangris, who served as a band councillor for over 10 years, was elected chief on a platform that focuses on reviving Dene language and culture. - Jennifer Obleman/NNSL photo

According to preliminary results from Tuesday's Yellowknives Dene First Nation election for Dettah chief, Sangris received 94 votes, incumbent Peter Liske took 88, Tsetta snagged 84 and Richard Edjericon received 62.

"The people have spoken, and they want change," said Sangris.

"A lot of people said they wanted a chief living in Dettah. That's probably one of the things that put me over the top."

Sangris, whose father and brother also served as past chiefs, said his top priorities as chief will be language, culture, land claims, and protecting the environment, as well as working with the new council to restructure band programs and services.

Unity is also high on his agenda.

"We'll all work together. That's one of the things I'm going to stress," Sangris said.

"Even the people that didn't support me, I won't cast them aside like the previous chief did. I'm trying to make the community better."

Tsetta, who finished in third place a mere 10 votes behind Sangris, attributed Sangris' win partly to the fact he has a big family.

Tsetta also pointed out that many people working in mining camps missed the chance to vote - a demographic he said could have clinched the win for him.

But overall, he wasn't too disappointed by the loss.

"Even though I didn't get in as chief, I'm still happy with our new chief because it means a new approach to land negotiations, a new approach to business, a new approach to youth and culture."

Tsetta is planning to run for a seat in the Aug. 27 band council election.

Five Dettah councillors and five Ndilo councillors will be elected to four-year terms.

In Tuesday's election for Dettah chief, there were 332 votes cast. Four ballots were disallowed. Voter turnout was about 45 per cent, slightly higher than in previous elections.

Sangris won with 28.7 per cent of the total vote, less than two per cent more than Liske's 26.8 per cent.

Liske could not be reached for comment as to whether he intended to launch an appeal to challenge the election results.

Edjericon was also unavailable for comment.