Development will take joint effort
Protocol possible, Kakfwi says

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 28/99) - If there is to be more economic development, there needs to be more co-operation between the GNWT and aboriginal leaders, Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development Minister Stephen Kakfwi said.

"Aboriginal peoples said for years the territorial government is not our government (but) having significant say in the economy, is what we are about. It's not about having total control," he said.

"For economic development, you need access to the land and the resources, and some incentive to develop the resource," he adds.

It may mean there is a need for a political protocol on how the GNWT and aboriginal governments will relate to the issues, "We will work on together," Kakfwi said.

"If we're going to develop a relationship, we have to develop a relationship between governments. We will be inviting community leaders to meet with us, to set up a process for input."

A meeting of aboriginal leaders scheduled for next week may include a move to set up a inter-governmental forum, Kakfwi added.

Kakfwi spoke Friday at a Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Explorer Hotel. His was the second in a three-part series of speeches covering economic development in the NWT. Earlier this month, Mayor Dave Lovell spoke from the city perspective. This Friday, chamber members will get the federal perspective.

Kakfwi said he and Premier Jim Antoine and Finance Minister Charles Dent will continue to press Ottawa for control of Northern lands.

Kakfwi also said he is not sure how ownership of Northern lands will happen, or, if there are to be increases in revenues, who will get them.

"We're starting with the assumption, we will share it between governments."

That means if a group decides to set up aboriginal self-government, there will be ownership and revenues from resources, he said.

On electoral boundaries, Kakfwi described the issue as a development which further alienates smaller communities' First Nations governments from exercising the type of control and decision-making they are accustomed to.

A court has determined the present distribution of MLAs in the new Western NWT is unconstitutional based on population.

The electoral boundaries issue is a "flashpoint" for aboriginal peoples, Kakfwi said.

If there is a desire for a political protocol and an economic strategy and a transfer of powers before changes are made to electoral boundaries and MLA numbers, Kakfwi said such protocols and strategies and transfer of powers should be done before the GNWT October election.

"My sense is that we should do this before the next election."

If not, maybe the election should be moved to early next year, he said.