Georges Erasmus to be Deh Cho’s New Chief Negotiator

The Deh Cho First Nations are proud to announce that legendary Dene leader and activist Georges Erasmus will become their new Chief Negotiator. Erasmus will be joined by two new assistant negotiators, adding new muscle and energy to the Deh Cho negotiating team. The Deh Cho is involved in negotiations with Canada to resolve long-standing disputes about jurisdiction over lands and resources. These negotiations have serious implications for the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline and the development of the Deh Cho’s huge deposits of oil and gas.

“This is an exciting time for the Deh Cho First Nations” said Grand Chief Herb Norwegian. “This re-structuring of our negotiating team allows us to bring in some very talented fresh blood, while still keeping the people who have negotiated very successfully for us over the past four years. We have some tough negotiations ahead of us, but we are confident that we have a very strong negotiating team which combines experience, skill and fresh ideas.”

Erasmus will become the Deh Cho’s new Chief Negotiator on January 26. Erasmus is a highly respected former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, former President of the Dene Nation, and was Co-Chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Chris Reid will become Legal Counsel to the Deh Cho after four years as both Chief Negotiator and Legal Counsel. Reid is a Toronto based Aboriginal lawyer. He had asked the Deh Cho to hire of a new Chief Negotiator so that he would have more time to focus on legal issues facing the Deh Cho. Sam Gargan will become Assistant Negotiator. Gargan is a former Chief of the Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation, former Mayor of Ft. Providence and former MLA and Speaker of the Territorial Legislature. Ria Letcher of Lidlii Kue (Ft. Simpson) has also been hired as an Assistant Negotiator. Ria is a 32 year old entrepreneur who has worked for the Deh Cho First Nations on natural resource management issues for the past year. She is fluent in the South Slavey dialect.

The Deh Cho First Nations are a Tribal Council representing 10 Dene communities and 3 Metis communities occupying more than 200,000 square km in the south-western part of the NWT. The Deh Cho Process negotiations began in 1999 and have resulted in several innovative agreements between Canada and the Deh Cho First Nations. These agreements have resulted in the withdrawal of approximately half of all lands in the Deh Cho territory from development and a role for the Deh Cho First Nations in deciding what types of development will occur on remaining lands. Negotiations are now working towards a final agreement which will recognize a Deh Cho public government, based on Dene laws and customs, as the primary government of the region.

For more information, contact: Grand Chief Herb Norwegian at: (867) 695-2355

Or Georges Erasmus at: 613-791-8542.