Leaders agree to participate
DCFN opt to abide by MVRMA for now

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Apr 14/00) - The Deh Cho First Nations leadership announced last week that they are officially willing to participate in the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board on an interim basis.

"The way in which DIAND developed and implemented the MVRMA (Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act) has been confrontational and not helpful. However, looking at the MVRMA objectively, we see it represents a small step forward in terms of First Nations' involvement in decision- making," said DCFN Grand Chief Michael Nadli, adding that elders' advice weighed heavily in the decision.

"We can therefore live with it temporarily until we have an agreement which replaces the MVRMA with a made-in-the-Deh-Cho model."

A three-member Deh Cho land and water panel is to be established, with one member appointed by the DCFN and the other two named by the chair of the MVLWB in consultation with the DCFN. The panel will have control over issuing land and water use permits in the Deh Cho until a Deh Cho Resource Management Authority replaces it.

The DCRMA will be based on Dene laws and customs, but will be accountable to all Deh Cho residents, including those who are not Dene or Metis, according to a DCFN press release.

Part four of the MVRMA became law on March 31. The DCFN has expressed opposition to the act from the outset.

"We have simply decided that, instead of fighting this issue in the courts, we will try to find a middle ground through negotiations," Nadli stated. "We intend to meet soon with officials of the MVLWB and MVRMA to discuss how we can implement the DCFN's decision."