Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Aboriginal Summit flounders

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 22/06) - The Aboriginal Summit suffered a blow this week when the Gwich'in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation withdrew their memberships.

Fred Carmichael, GTC president, was unavailable for comment but during a Monday morning radio interview said the summit was more consumed by arguing over who was or wasn't a member rather than getting on with devolution or revenue sharing matters.

That same day (Dec. 18), the summit issued a news release announcing the GTC and IRC departures, but declined further comment. Requests for an interview with summit president James Wah-Shee were also turned down.

"Right now there is no further direction to say anything else," said a spokesperson.

According to its literature the summit is a, "Forum for (NWT) aboriginal government leaders to work together on some issues of common interest."

In recent years it provided the aboriginal vanguard for devolution and revenue sharing negotiations with the territorial and federal governments.

K'asho Gotine Charter Community Council Chief Ron Pierrot said he would like to see the Sahtu remain a summit member but questioned its overall effectiveness with claimant groups in various stages of negotiations and self-government development.

"We want to be involved but other claimant groups are holding up the process," he said in reference to those without settled claims. "My own view is (the summit) really hasn't gone anywhere. I guess we can move ahead by region but we've always said we can be that much stronger if we move together."

Pierrot added that inside or out of the summit, his region needs to hammer out a devolution and revenue sharing deal and soon.

"We can only hold off development for so long," he said. "If the world wants our gas they're going to come and get it."

Last year, the summit received more than $1.2 million from the GNWT and another $1.6 million from the federal government.

"It was put together to try and work with the GNWT on common interests we can bring to the federal government," said Deputy Premier Floyd Roland. "(But) we haven't had any real movement on that area, at one point we did have a joint proposal going to the feds in 2003."

The summit includes the Tlicho Government, North Slave Metis Alliance, NWT Metis Nation, Deline First Nation and Sahtu Dene Council, with the Deh Cho and Akaitcho First Nations as observers.