Minister Duncan misrepresents aboriginal peoples to Northern Affairs Committee

Statements made by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs are misleading the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. On March 6, Minister John Duncan told the Committee that there is strong support for the changes the government is planning to make to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act.

Duncan failed to inform Members of the Committee that all Aboriginal groups affected by the MVRMA have rejected the Governments proposal to have only one super Land and Water Board for the Mackenzie Valley.

Grand Chief Samuel Gargan says the Minister is completely ignoring the collective interests of Aboriginal peoples who are being impacted by the government unilateral action.

“The government is showing rather clearly it is a government for industry not of the people or the environment. Canada signed Agreements with Dehcho First Nations to negotiate resource management in our self government negotiations. Now it’s ignoring those agreements just like it is ignoring its agreements with the Gwich’in, the Sahtu and the Tlicho. We are very disappointed by this government’s denial of our constitutional rights.”

The government has also ignored recommendations from the 2004 Joint Examination Project on the MVRMA done co-operatively by Gwich’in, Sahtu, Tlicho, Federal and Territorial Governments over a 2 year period.

Instead it is following up on some of the recommendations made by Neil McCrank in 2008 to eliminate the regional boards that resulted from the land claim agreements.

Gargan says Canada is also trying to pretend its consulting aboriginal groups by having information meetings with us.

“The meetings Aboriginal Affairs has had with First Nation governments hasn’t been consultation. Duncan’s officials come to tell leaders what they are going to do and are completely rejecting requests and recommendations coming for us collectively. At our meeting in Calgary, which Duncan mentioned to the Committee as being consultation, there was no dialogue. It was the Minister telling that us they had rejected the request of the Aboriginal Coalition to respect existing Agreements. It wasn’t consultation at all. It was a, like it or lump it, approach.”

Sources have told Dehcho First Nations that Canada’s plan for changes to the MVRMA will be included in the budget speech this week.

A meeting, between John Pollard who is spearheading the process for Duncan and Aboriginal representative, is scheduled for tomorrow in Yellowknife.

For further Information:

Grand Chief Samuel Gargan

867 699-4880