Dealing on Deh Cho time
Elders request feds slow treaty negotiations

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 21/00) - The Deh Cho First Nation's leadership and a delegation of elders met recently at the Hay River Dene Reserve to discuss negotiations and developments within the Deh Cho.

Chiefs, presidents and elders accepted, in principle, a working draft political accord with the GNWT to proceed with negotiations of the land claim framework agreement.

DCFN Grand Chief Michael Nadli said leaders and local elders were concerned that DIAND was trying to push negotiations too quickly. The federal negotiator imposed a March 31 deadline to begin negotiations.

"They felt a little uncomfortable having this target date hanging over their head," Nadli said. "I think the DIAND officials have to go according to Dene time."

Nadli added the complex nature of the DCFN requires a great deal of co-ordination with a total of 14 organizations, 11 chiefs, three presidents and elder representatives from each community, just at the tribal level.

"The process is steaming along at a good pace and steady progress is being made, but things take time and I think that government has to realize that, too," Nadli said.

The members also agreed there should be a board established for a pipeline project through the Mackenzie Valley.

"It was a follow-up to the discussion we had in Fort Liard," he said. "We have (Fort Liard) Chief Harry Deneron co-ordinating and acting as chair for the working group and we needed two other representatives."

Dennis Nelner, from the Deh Cho First Nation, and Doug Cardinal, from the Hay River Dene Reserve, were appointed to sit on the board with Deneron.

Delegates also established July 10-14 as the date for the Deh Cho Assembly to be held in Kakisa.

Nadli said the membership has agreed to hold this and all other future assemblies in the small community.

"The elders and the people felt that Kakisa was a special place in the Deh Cho," he said. "At the last assembly there was a consensus that we should continue to meet in Kakisa."

As well, the delegates passed four other resolutions, including GNWT transfer of programs and services to Deh Cho, the language implementation process, local Dene/Metis membership and streamlining the organization.