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Letter asks Ottawa to help force public meeting
Feds decline request to help set up assembly for Deninu Ku'e

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 12, 2011

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is declining a request by a dozen members of Deninu Ku'e First Nation to help press for an annual general assembly for the Fort Resolution band.

A Nov. 17 letter from the band members asked the federal department to help set up an assembly so an "open dialogue" could be held with the chief and band council regarding a number of concerns.

"Although we acknowledge that it is good business practice to keep members informed, AANDC does not have a legislated mandate to require that First Nations hold annual general assemblies," said a department spokesperson in Yellowknife, adding a requirement to hold such a meeting may be set out in a band's custom election code.

The letter from the band members stated Deninu Ku'e First Nation is operating without proper consultation with its membership.

It raised a number of issues, including the recent purchase of a retail store by the band, impact benefit agreements, mining developments, and heavy equipment training through road improvements on historic Mission Island.

"The last time the Deninu Ku'e First Nation had an annual general assembly was in 2004," the letter stated. "We do not know what is happening with our chief and council at the local level, let alone what is happening nationally with items such as the Akaitcho Process, water strategy issues, health issues related to our depleting ecosystem and so on."

Chief Louis Balsillie said he is frustrated by the letter, claiming the group behind it still has grievances from previous elections.

"I mean it's over and done with," he said of the election disputes.

Balsillie also rejected the dozen band members' contention that no annual general assembly has been held since 2004, noting the last one was in 2009 and there were other years since 2004 in which assemblies were held.

"We'll have an annual general assembly when the time is right," he said. "Right now is not the right time because there's too much bickering."

Balsillie said there will be an annual general assembly this coming summer.

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