CEC Confirms Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Election postponement

Behchokǫ̀, NT (Tuesday, September 21, 2021) - The Chiefs Executive Council (CEC), not including the current Grand Chief, of the Tłı̨chǫ Government has confirmed the decision of Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Election Registrar Gabrielle Mackenzie Scott to postpone the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief election to November 18, 2021.

As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Tłı̨chǫ region and containment orders issued by the Chief Public Health Officer of the NWT effective September 9, 2021, the Registrar for the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Election 2021, Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott (the “Registrar”), has ordered that the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Election be postponed until November 18, 2021. A Notice of Postponement was sent to the Tłı̨chǫ Government on September 10, 2021.

Candidates for Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus and Jackson Lafferty objected to the decision of the Registrar.  Their joint letter was filed as an appeal. Following Tłı̨chǫ law, the CEC met as an appeal body to consider the appeal/complaint and asked both the two candidates and the Registrar for written submissions on the complaint.

CEC, excluding Grand Chief Mackenzie, who is a candidate for the position of Grand Chief and is barred by Tłı̨chǫ law from participating in CEC discussions or decision, considered the written materials and submissions.

The CEC reviewed all the surrounding circumstances before the Registrar, including the Covid-19 outbreak in the Tłı̨chǫ communities, the fact that she consulted with experts in the public health field and had the support of the Chief Public Health Officer for her decision, the precedent of the outbreak in the Sahtu region and above all else, the risk to health and safety of Tłı̨chǫ citizens and staff.  The CEC confirmed that the Registrars decision was justified, reasonable and there was no contravention of Tłı̨chǫ law.

The CEC also recognized the unprecedented risk and circumstances created by the global pandemic and particularly the outbreak in the Tłı̨chǫ communities, stating in its Decision that the CEC

“…appreciate[s] the frustration for all those involved in the Grand Chief Election, especially the candidates, due to the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. We all have been thrust into a time of uncertainty at the very time of the Grand Chief election. These are unprecedented times. We are all worried for each other as the global pandemic hits us right in the heart of our territory. Nonetheless, the preferences of the candidates to hold the election on the originally scheduled date must take a back seat to ensuring that the health and safety of Tłı̨chǫ citizens is prioritized above all else.”

The Registrar’s postponement of the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief election to November 18, 2021 recognizes that holding the election as planned for September 30, 2021, would not only deny many Tłı̨chǫ citizens the right to vote which are enshrined under Tłı̨chǫ law, but could put our citizens at greater risk of negative health outcomes due to the virus that is still spreading in our communities. The Tłı̨chǫ Government and its institutions must act in the best interest of the Tłı̨chǫ. The CEC thanks everyone for their patience and encourages everyone to keep each other safe.

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