Chief Negotiator Reports
We are happy to report that Agreement in Principles (AiP) negotiations have finally resumed after many delays.
In February, 2016 we hired a new Chief Negotiator to replace Georges Erasmus, who had retired, but that the new negotiator did not work out and the Leadership decided in October to terminate his contract and place the Grand Chief (GC) in the position of Acting Chief Negotiator. The Grand Chief (GC) is assisted by other leaders and our experienced negotiating team.
With our new team in place, main table negotiations finally resumed in November in Ft. Simpson. Our next session will be December 13-15 in West Point and Ft. Providence.
All parties have agreed to a full and frank discussion of lands and resources issues as the primary focus of Agreement in Principles (AiP) negotiations. Dehcho First Nations (DFN) negotiators welcomed this shift in focus because these issues have been effectively pushed off the agenda for several years by both Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).
In our view, it’s important that these upcoming negotiations on lands and resources take place mainly in Dehcho communities, as the Framework Agreement directs, so that Dehcho citizens can observe and participate. In the early years of the Dehcho Process we held meetings mainly in the communities and we made lots of progress during those years. Budget restraints have forced us to hold meetings mainly by teleconference for the past five years, but it was always intended that the crucial lands and resources negotiations would be held in the communities, face-to-face.
At the special leadership meeting Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 in Ft. Simpson, it was decided that the negotiating team will work with our communities to map the lands we intend to retain as Dehcho Ndehe and Community Lands. The Chief Negotiator / Grand Chief will personally lead a small team which will visit all Dehcho communities in early 2017 to hear the view of community members and leaders regarding which lands the Dehcho people should own. Should we focus on selecting lands with high economic development potential while protecting sensitive and sacred areas through land use planning and protected areas? Or do we want to own some conservation lands in addition to lands intended for development? I intend to visit as many Dehcho communities as possible to discuss these issues with you and get a clearer picture of what Dehcho Ndehe will look like.