Answers wanted
Nadli offers GNWT a chance to explain

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson ( May 12/00) - The grand chief of the Deh Cho First Nations says the DCFN is giving the territorial government another opportunity to explain how the GNWT should fit into the self-government process.

Michael Nadli said he hopes some honest answers surface during a round-table discussion among the DCFN, the GNWT and the federal government. The meeting has been scheduled for May 23-25 in Yellowknife.

"We're trying to deal with it as openly and frank as we can, but they basically haven't really come around," Nadli said.

"They've said, in grandiose statements, that they're willing to work with all First Nations. They're key words are partnerships, government to government to government. But yet, when it comes right down to the factual, detailed issues, they basically dance around it."

Jim Antoine, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs, could not be reached for comment before deadline. Antoine is scheduled to make a presentation at the DCFN spring leadership meeting in Fort Liard next week.

Nadli said he approached Premier Stephen Kakfwi and DIAND Minister Robert Nault at last Friday's intergovernmental forum in Hay River and expressed further concern over the lack of progress with the GNWT.

Since November, the DCFN has been urging the territorial government to recognize the DCFN as the public government in the Deh Cho and to define how the GNWT expects to fit into resource revenue sharing.

Frustrated with the lack of response, the DCFN had cut off relations with the GNWT.

Nadli said First Nations leaders in the Deh Cho have grown "very concerned and very disappointed.

"Up to this point we've been trying to play the hand of diplomacy here. Of course, you can only take diplomacy so far. We've met with Jim (Antoine), we've met with the premier back in January, our negotiations team has addressed the GNWT in bi-lateral discussions. How much more can we bend over backwards?" Nadli said.

"We have the lands, we have the resources. If the GNWT wants to work with us, we're willing to help them."

In an interview last month, DCFN chief negotiator Chris Reid said, "These guys (GNWT officials) are playing a game. They're not serious. We're not going to talk to them until they get serious."

He added the GNWT negotiator's reasoning of being uninformed because the GNWT has not officially been at the negotiating table is invalid in his opinion.

"It's a joke. Every document has been shared with them," he said, adding that they have had observers at most meetings as well.