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Tlicho take full control of land
Government pledges to move forward with development while protecting the land for future generations

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 6, 2013

After finalizing its land use plan on April 24, the Tlicho Government has full control over who has access to their land and what development may take place.

NNSL photo/graphic

Click on this map for an enlarged view of the claims boundary.

"It was an exciting day for us," Tlicho Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus told News/North of announcing the plan was complete at the Tlicho Assembly in Gameti. "Because of the hard work our elders have done, we passed a law for the finalization of the Tlicho Land Use Plan. It's something that was negotiated in our agreement, that the Tlicho would design a land use plan on Tlicho land. So, it's just the implementation of that agreement and it will respect our history and traditions."

Members of the Tlicho Government have been working with community members on the plan since the Tlicho Agreement came into effect on Aug. 4, 2005. The purpose of the plan is to protect Tlicho land for future generations and respect culturally-significant areas while giving guidelines for development, said Erasmus.

As a result of the Tlicho Agreement, the Tlicho Government owns surface and subsurface rights to a 39,000-square-kilometre swath of land that stretches from the North Arm of Great Slave Lake to Great Bear Lake and encompasses all four Tlicho communities: Behchoko, Whati, Gameti and Wekweeti.

For the past eight years, there has been a moratorium on all development on Tlicho land. Now that the plan is in place, the Tlicho Government will lift the moratorium on June 1 and the lands

protection department will begin processing land-use applications.

"It's the Tlicho Government that will lift the moratorium and the land-use plan will guide us in how we process lands applications," said Erasmus.

"We'll control ownership and authority over our lands now. I guess this is time when we move from a phase of protection of our controlled lands to the very important phase of legislation of controlled lands."

The Tlicho Land Use Plan states it is unique from other regional land use plans in the territory because all affected lands are owned by a single entity: the Tlicho Government.

There are exceptions. The chief and council for each of the four Tlicho communities retain control of land within their municipal boundaries. The NWT Power Corporation owns parcels of land within the boundary for Snare River hydroelectric generation facilities. Also, former mine sites are excluded from Tlicho land and the federal government retains parcels where leases have been granted for mining purposes.

The authorities and responsibilities of the Wek'eezhii Land and Water Board and the Wek'eezhii Renewable Resources Board, which were both created through the Tlicho Agreement, will extend to Tlicho land, states the plan.

Now that the 66-page Tlicho Land Use Plan has been finalized, the lands protection department is responsible for processing all applications for access to Tlicho lands, guiding the use of Tlicho lands, making decisions on whether or not to approve proposed development projects, and monitoring projects and land use, said Erasmus.

The government is now moving to implement the plan. This will include further mapping the area using satellite imagery.

"This will be used to make more informed land-use decisions," said Erasmus.

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