DCFN to Ottawa: No development
First Nation fires another shot cross Ottawa's bow

by Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 12/97) - It appears he's going out with a bang, not a whimper.

Outgoing Deh Cho First Nations Grand Chief Gerald Antoine's office has released a statement calling for a territory-wide moratorium against development to be put into effect immediately.

The statement follows the passage of such a motion at the recent DCFN assembly in Kakisa.

"Deh Cho peoples cannot and will not allow any activity in our territory without our consent," states the release, which came out Monday.

"We are the owners and of the underlying title of our Deh Cho territory. The state of Canada has no jurisdiction as we have no understanding of the role of the Canadian state in our territory."

"Until there are discussions with the properly accredited officials of the Canadian state, our territories are closed."

Grand Chief Antoine will be stepping down from his post on Oct. 1. Fort Providence's Michael Nadli will then assume the position.

The DCFN release also says the group's leadership stands behind the 1994 Deh Cho Proposal. "We have had no positive response to our Deh Cho Process," the release says.

Last month, in an interview with the Drum, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jane Stewart would not go beyond generalities when asked about the Deh Cho Proposal.

Stewart did, however, say that Ottawa and the DCFN belong together in trust around the negotiating table.

On Tuesday, Antoine also said that the DCFN has sent out a worldwide bulletin through the Internet explaining its position.

"We're letting people be aware of the situation," he told the Drum. "We've made two international trips to Geneva.... It's an update bulletin to let people know what the direction of the assembly was."

"I'm sure there will be a good response ... the Canadian people should also send letters in support of resolving the Deh Cho-Crown relationship."

He also said that discussions with Ottawa are inevitable.

"We have to get ready or prepare ourselves for it and it has already begun," he said. "Time is not of the essence. The main thing is the initial meeting we need to have with the minister."

"The relationship has to change and we are willing to sit down and discuss it."