The Dehcho First Nations (DFN) have been in negotiations since late 1990s. A number of Agreements between Canada and DFN have been completed and guided the Dehcho Process negotiations. Included in these are the Framework Agreement, The 21 Common Ground Principles, the Interim measures Agreement and the Interim Resource Development Agreement. Each of these Agreements are available on the Dehcho website.
There are many unique features of the Dehcho Process. First, all negotiations have been held in public. Each sessions is open to the public and all documents tabled at the negotiations are posted on the website.
The Framework Agreement lays the foundation for what will be negotiated. The 21 Common Ground Principles set some ground rules that have been mutually agreed to by DFN and government. Included is an agreement to negotiate public government within the Dehcho Territory. This means each community government and the Dehcho Regional government will become the primary government in the Dehcho region for all residents. This presents both challenges and advantages.
The majority of the Agreement in Principle (AiP) is completed and is available for review on the Dehcho website in the “negotiations” section. Unfortunately key tough issues remain outstanding ‐ lands and resources and land management. DFN talks were sidetracked for the two yeas prior to devolution being announced while Canada and the GNWT negotiated in secret. During that period neither government would discuss any land matters. It is worth noting that with all other Northern agreements lands were the first matters addressed.
Further delays in the Dehcho Process have been experienced during this past year.
There have been only two brief negotiating session this year, in May and June. There were no main table negotiations between January and May, 2015 as a result of the GNWT’s suspension, and negotiations continued to be suspended during the federal and territorial election campaigns. The next session is scheduled for Dec 14th as a one day teleconference.
When negotiations resume, the focus will be on land quantum. The DFN tabled its position in June setting the reasons why Dehcho Ndehe should be no less than 50,000 sq km of surface and subsurface lands. Canada has now responded with a series of questions which DFN will be addressing. GNWT has not formally responded, except to indicate their interest in the questions raised by Canada.