Nahecho Meeting / February 13 -15, 2007

Fort Simpson, NWT – Elders from various Dehcho Communities met here this week to receive updates on the Dehcho Process and other political developments.

This is the first meeting that has been held since the Special Assembly in November 2006. The assembly was held to discuss the Federal Government’s proposal for land selection. The Assembly provided cautious direction in an exploratory mandate allowing for further exploration in the Dehcho Region. It is very important that members clearly understand that Dehcho First Nations is not negotiating land selection and that any decision to do so will be clearly communicated to the members.

Crown Consultations also met with the Nahecho to discuss and let the elders know of their plans with respect to the consultations on the Mackenzie Gas Project. The Crown Consultations Unit is a coalition of various Federal departments who communicate regularly with respect to the MGP. They are working in cooperation to communicate with communities to avoid, mitigate and accommodate negative impacts that should arise from the Mackenzie Gas Project. In the Dehcho they have been partially successful in their consultations. There consultations will continue through the development of the Mackenzie Gas Project. It was made clear to the Crown Consultations unit that all Governments and industry that wish to meet with the Dehcho Communities should work closely and cooperatively with the Dehcho First Nations Government to ensure that proper protocol is adhered to. Consultations should run through the life of any project.

This direction works directly into development of an industrial development template that has been initiated by the Elders and Harvesters of the Dehcho. Consultant Luciano Azzolinni of Terra Firma has been retained as is actively compiling information and should have a draft template for presentation at the next scheduled meeting. The template will be a protocol that will guide conduct of developers in the Dehcho. Examples of these agreements have been modeled by the Tlicho and Akaitcho governments.

The meeting decided that Nahecho gatherings will issue Press releases and briefing notes immediately following the meetings. The elders will select a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group. Too often the wrong message gets communicated to the public which undermines the intentions of the Nahecho which are to be as open and transparent as possible. Information on all meetings can be obtained by contacting the Dehcho First Nations office directly. All Dehcho First Nations meetings are posted and communicated as public events.

The next Nahecho Gathering is a joint meeting with the Harvesters and is scheduled for March 13th – 15th on the Hay River Reserve.

For further information on this meeting you can contact Ria Letcher – Assistant Negotiator Dehcho First Nations.