Land claim, social programs main issues in Acho Dene Koe election in Fort Liard, N.W.T. – North

Land claim, social programs main issues in Acho Dene Koe election in Fort Liard, N.W.T. – North

Members of the Acho Dene Koe First Nation in Fort Liard, N.W.T., head to the polls today.

This marks an end to a contentious election campaign, which included alleged incidents of uttering threats and arson against candidates running for chief and council.

Fort Liard, a community of about 500 in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories near the B.C and Yukon border, is where most Acho Dene Koe members live.

More than a dozen candidates initially put their names forward to run in the election for a chief and six band councillor positions, but four dropped out and their names did not appear on a final list of candidates posted Thursday evening. 

The election appears to have boiled down to one major issue: how high of a priority is the First Nation’s land claim for the Acho Dene Koe going forward?  

The Acho Dene Koe have been negotiating their own land claim for years. For some candidates, wrapping up the negotiations is the most important thing for the First Nation. Successfully concluding the land claim is a key step in the First Nation reaching self-government.

While not discounting the importance of the land claim, other candidates say the next group elected to chief and band council need to refocus on social programs for residents. That includes looking at forming a justice committee, a wellness centre and organizing social events that would bring the community together.   

Voting begins Monday at 1 p.m. MT and continues until 7 p.m.

CBC’s Alex Brockman is in Fort Liard, N.W.T., covering the election Monday.

Follow him on Twitter @BrockmanCBC or visit CBC NWT’s Facebook page for updates throughout the day.

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