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Erasing the court case

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Kakisa (July 04/05) - Dehcho First Nations (DFN) is prepared to sign an agreement that will end the lawsuits currently obstructing the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

The Dehcho has negotiated a $15 million settlement with the federal government, which includes funding for DFN to participate in the environmental process for the pipeline.

The agreement will prohibit DFN from filing further litigation against the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in regards to the pipeline for seven years.

Kakisa Chief Lloyd Chicot admitted he remains dissatisfied with that particular clause.

"That was the biggest hesitation I had," Chicot said. "(But) I think that's the best we could do."

The federal government has agreed to grant the Dehcho its own resource management authority in a final self-government agreement.

However, Ottawa would not guarantee that the regional authority would be independent of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, as DFN wanted.

Last August, DFN, seeking a greater role in the environmental assessment of the proposed pipeline, filed legal action against the federal government and regulatory agencies overseeing the pipeline project.

The Deh Cho initially demanded two seats on a seven-member joint review panel for the pipeline, but that wish is not bestowed through this settlement agreement.

Media was barred from pipeline litigation discussions at last week's Dehcho Assembly in Kakisa.

Not talking

On Friday, an official with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs said the settlement agreement still has a confidentiality clause in place, "so nobody should be talking about anything... right up until the minister signs it."

Herb Norwegian, DFN grand chief, also cited the confidentiality clause and declined comment on the agreement.