The Chiniki Lecture series is named after the Chiniki First Nation which sits just west of Calgary. Every spring, the History Graduate Students Union brings in a respected academic or community leader to present to faculty and students from the UofC and to any local residents who wish to participate. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.
This year, Grand Chief Gargan will speak on a number of important subjects affecting the Dehcho nation and the Canadian North. One subject of great importance to the Dehcho remains the ongoing jurisdictional and self-governance process with the Canadian government. Intimately tied to this question of governance are the Dehcho’s relations with the government and international oil companies and the future of the recently approved $16 billion Mackenzie Valley pipeline project – which project developers hope to run across Dehcho land. Grand Chief Gargan will also be discussing the expansion and protection of Nahanni National Park and his peoples’ protected areas and land use strategy.
On June 22, 2009, Dehcho First Nations members elected Samuel Gargan of Fort Providence as their new Grand Chief. Gargan, who was elected to a three-year term, is no stranger to politics. In the 1980’s he worked as a Program Coordinator for Dene Nation. His subsequent positions included Mayor of Fort Providence, Chief of the Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation and four terms as an MLA in the Northwest Territory from 1983 to 2000. During this time in territorial politics, Gargan served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and as the Executive Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Gargan was born in Redknife and received his education at the Sacred Heart Residential School in Fort Providence and at Lapointe Hall in Fort Simpson. He became involved with the Native struggle beginning in the 1970s and remains passionate about his political activism to this day.
In 1958, at age nine, the Gargan family moved from the settlement of Redknife to Fort Providence. This small settlement was a thriving and bustling one, with activity year round; trapping in the winter, spring hunts, summer gathering and fall harvesting. Gargan’s mother used to say, there were tepees as far as the eyes could see on the south side of the Dehcho – from what is known today as Bouvier Creek to Morrison Creek – and every land mark and sacred place had Dene names.
Gargan never misses the opportunity to be on his native homeland with his family as he did with his parents in days gone by. According to Gargan, passing on his knowledge and sharing it with others is important. He believes that, at one point, he just about lost who he was but, by the grace of God, was able to regain what he cherished most: his identity.
In his Leadership role, Grand Chief Gargan hopes to make a difference and correct any injustice he feels has been done to his people and all Native Americans.
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