Northern Canada's Deline, population 500, gets self-governance

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Canadian territory Deline self governs
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Canadian territory Deline self governs
Madeline Champlain and Marie Flunkie, two elders visiting from the community of Whati, wear traditional moccasins with bright socks and skirts at a spiritual gathering in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Elders sit inside the home of the prophet Louis Ayah, a place for prayer and spiritual guidance, in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Council member Morris Neyelle embraces Deline Got'ine chief negotiator Danny Gaudet at a leadership ceremony in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Grilled duck is ready to be carved for a community lunch in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
George Dolphus beats a caribou skin drum during traditional Dene handgames, where two teams compete to find a hidden object in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Elders Irene Tetso and Veronica Bayha watch men play handgames at the community hall in in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Charlie Neyelle "feeds the fire" at a spiritual ceremony on the sacred grounds of the prophet Louis Ayah in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Sheds line the shore of Great Bear Lake in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The aurora borealis appears over Great Bear Lake, the world's 8th largest lake in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Mary Taya, Joanne Snowshoe and Sarah Nerysoo, visitors from Fort McPherson, walk together in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A group of friends play together at a playground in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada. September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Stanley Ferdinand filets large trout he caught in Great Bear Lake in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A dog stands on its doghouse in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
George Baton smokes a cigarette while steering his boat over rough water on Great Bear Lake near Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Danny Gaudet, Deline's lead negotiator who has been working on the community's self-government for the past 18 years, poses in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Stanley Ferdinand filets large trout he caught in Great Bear Lake in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An employee of the Deline Got'ine government fills up a truck with water from Great Bear Lake, which will be delivered to homes and public buildings, in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Doug Wilson, a visiting elder from Aklavik, enjoys a rough boat ride along the shore of Great Bear Lake near Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A brightly decorated home is seen in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Former Deline chief, George Cleary, dances during a drum dance as a young boy stands at the centre of the circle in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A street lamp illuminates homes and sheds in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Former Deline chief, George Cleary, wears a jacket made of caribou while standing against a drying moose hide in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A sign marks the entry to the sacred grounds of the prophet Louis Ayah in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A girl poses with a flower outside the community hall in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A teepee used to smoke fish and animal hides stands in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus stands in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Deline's Ekwatide (highest honour leader) Raymond Tutchko, who was elected in June, poses in Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Pat Kane SEARCH "DELINE KANE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Oct 6 (Reuters) - A small aboriginal community in Canada's Northwest Territories is crafting laws that would normally be imposed by higher authorities as it forges ahead on a path of self-governance some 20 years in the making.

Deline's population of 500 had been working toward self-rule since 1995, negotiating with federal and territorial authorities and holding its own ratification vote before officially achieving independence on Sept. 1.

According to Deline's Final Self-Government Agreement, the community can regulate liquor and gaming, language usage, education, health services, welfare and land planning.

Deline, whose name is pronounced with three syllables, is still adjusting to its new status, but it hopes to have its own laws in place by the end of the year, said Raymond Tutcho, the community's elected leader.

"There're too many leaders making decisions for our people," said the 61-year-old grandfather of 10.

Deline is located at about the same latitude as Iceland, on 80 hectares (200 acres) of short houses and unruly grass. Its name means "where the waters flow," a reference to Great Bear Lake, which lies to the east.

Tutcho's title, "Ekwatide," means "highest honest leader" in the Deline Got'ine dialect, which he says is the first language of 90 percent of the community. It is an official language in Deline along with English.

Tutcho said the desire for self-governance was inspired in part by the late aboriginal prophet Louis or Lewis Ayah, also known as Ehtseo, who died in 1940 and has a cabin devoted to him on the western edge of town.

According to a guide for teachers in the Northwest Territories, Ayah said outsiders making decisions for the community would bring changes for the worse.

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"Whatever you do, do not change your lifestyle," he was quoted as saying. "If you do, you will be sorry later."

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod said in a statement that Deline was an "inspiration."

Canada has signed 22 self-government agreements recognizing jurisdictions involving 36 aboriginal communities and is negotiating others, according to a fact sheet from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

"Lands and resources under the control of these Aboriginal governments are more attractive to investors," the agency said. " ... As a result, greater prosperity for Aboriginal people and a more promising future for all Canadians may be achieved."

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