New face at table
Minister hopes appointment will kick start Treaty 8 talks

Terry Kruger
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 24/00) - A new negotiator has been appointed to get talks between Akaitcho Treaty 8 chiefs and the federal government back on the rails.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Robert Nault, in Yellowknife last week, announced the appointment of lawyer and law professor John Gill on Jan. 18.

"We look forward to moving on with negotiations with the Akaitcho Treaty 8," said Nault. "John Gill's experience as a lawyer, particularly his aboriginal law practice, and his mediation and arbitration experience are excellent preparation for the challenges he is taking on."

The Treaty 8 communities consist of Ndilo, Dettah, Deninu Ku'e (Fort Resolution) and Lutsel K'e. Talks toward a negotiated settlement have moved slowly since beginning in 1992.

The parties have yet to reach a framework agreement, and the Treaty 8 chiefs walked away from negotiations in May 1999 in protest over having the Government of the Northwest Territories sign the agreement.

Last October, the First Nation met with DIAND assistant deputy minister Bill Austin to explore their views on land, resources and governance issues. Those talks were not able to bring the two sides closer together.

Gill is no stranger to negotiations and aboriginal issues. His experience includes representing aboriginal groups at the Supreme Court of Canada on the Oldman Dam case, and he has appeared in front of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench and Federal Court on aboriginal and environmental issues.

In addition to work as a partner with the firm McCuaig Desrochers, Gill is a sessional lecturer at the University of Alberta Law School in employment and immigration law.

News/North attempts to contact Treaty 8 chiefs were unsuccessful.