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Dogrib claim in Federal Court

North Slave Metis Alliance confident

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Edmonton (Dec 17/01) - The North Slave Metis Alliance will have to wait until early in the New Year to see if their attempt at stopping the Dogrib Nation land claim has been successful.

On Dec. 4, the North Slave Metis Alliance faced the Dogrib Nation in Federal Court in Edmonton to battle over an injunction that could stop the Dogrib Nation Treaty 11 land claim until they recognize Metis rights.

"I am confident we will win the court case," said Clem Paul, president of the North Slave Metis Alliance. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."

The Federal Court trial division will make a decision on the injunction some time in January, said Paul.

He said despite the judge's decision he doesn't think the Dogrib will get a clean victory.

The Dogrib could not be reached for comment.

The North Slave Metis accuse the Dogrib of unilaterally deciding the fate of the Metis in the North Slave region by including them in a blanket definition of beneficiaries to their claim.

"They say they represent all aboriginal people here before 1921," said Paul. "You can't do that. We told the court that they cannot pretend to represent and extinguish rights without consulting us."

In a separate but still connected front, the North Slave Metis have taken the Dogrib Nation, the federal government and the territorial government to court to assert and show the Metis role in the Dogrib claim.

No court date has been set.

The North Slave Metis said the Dogrib have excluded them from any negotiations during their land claim process.

They said other regions like the Deh Cho Nation and Gwich'in Nation have included Metis in their respective processes.

Paul said the Dogrib are doing the federal government's dirty by trying to "assimilate" the Metis.

"The Dogrib process is the fulfillment of the government's dream for the last 200 years to extinguish and assimilate the Metis people," said Paul. "Now they are sitting back and letting the Dogrib do it."

"They are not going to assimilate me and my people, that is why I'm fighting."

Paul said the Akaitcho Treaty 8 Dene - involved in an ongoing boundary dispute with the Dogrib - considered involvement in the injunction application but chose not to seek to intervene.

Paul said the Akaitcho should watch the Metis closely because the decision will influence their conflict with the Dogrib.

Akaitcho chiefs could not be reached for comment.