Metis divisions deepen
North Slave alliance says Metis Nation had no signing authority

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 06/96) - Metis political rifts have flared up over Friday's signing of the BHP environmental agreement.

Leaders of the North Slave Metis Alliance say they, and not Metis Nation president Gary Bohnet, should have negotiated with BHP on behalf of Metis in the region.

The alliance, composed of the Yellowknife Metis Council, Metis Nation Locals 64 and 66, formed earlier this year.

"Technically speaking, the environmental agreement signed today is not a legitimate document ... because the North Slave Metis did not sign on the dotted line," said president of Metis Nation Local 64 Sholto Douglas in a press release.

The alliance says they should be negotiating because the mine will fall within their jurisdiction. Metis Nation vice-president Mike Paulette said the alliance has no jurisdiction.

"The North Slave Metis Alliance is not a legal entity, it's just three people working together," said Paulette. "There's no legal basis for its existence."

Paulette went further to say Douglas recognized the Metis Nation's right to represent Metis in negotiations in a resolution he moved at this year's annual general assembly.

The motion reads in part, "Therefore be it resolved that the Metis Nation -Northwest Territories direct correspondence to the federal ministers ... restating our position with regards to social and economic environmental monitoring."

The Metis Nation's board of directors has acknowledged the alliance's right to negotiate an impact benefits agreement with BHP.