First Nations Send Pipeline Presents to New Indian Affairs Minister

The Deh Cho First Nations today sent a special package to Andy Mitchell, newly minted Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The package contains one of the stakes from claims filed along the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. The claims were filed by the wife of a senior government official involved in the pipeline review, and are currently being investigated.

The package also contains a proposal for how the federal government could involve the First Nations in reviewing the pipeline.

“We were disappointed in the response from the previous minister,” says Deh Cho First Nations Grand Chief Herb Norwegian. “We are hoping that Mr. Mitchell will take another look at our very reasonable requests, to cancel these claims, and to meaningfully involve the Deh Cho communities in reviewing the pipeline which is set to cross our lands. We have sent him these gifts as symbols of our desire to move forward with a new minister, a new government, and a new relationship.”

People from the Deh Cho pulled the claim stakes after the government refused to take action to cancel the mineral claims. Instead, the department extended the term of the claims.

The proposed Memorandum of Understanding sets out roles and responsibilities of a review panel that would assess the Mackenzie Valley pipeline proposal. It includes places for two Deh Cho representatives on a seven-person panel.

“This shows the government that we are taking our responsibilities seriously,” notes Chief Norwegian. “We are not just criticizing or blocking the pipeline. We are prepared to move forward and review the proposal, as long as the government and other parties cooperate in giving us meaningful involvement in the review.”

The MOU lays out factors to be considered during a review, including a full assessment of alternatives to the project, and an assessment of the contribution of the project to sustainable development on a local and a national scale.

The proposed MOU has been tabled with the National Energy Board. It has also been sent to the proposed parties to the agreement; the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, the Inuvialuit Game Council, and the federal Minister of the Environment.

For more information, please contact:

Herb Norwegian, Grand Chief, Deh Cho First Nations, phone: (867) 874-1249