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Deh Cho puts kink in pipeline

First Nations set terms and conditions for industry and government

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Sep 07/01) - The Deh Cho First Nations are setting their own terms, many of them political, before agreeing to a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Leo Norwegian: "We can wait." - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

At a special assembly in Wrigley last week, the elders made a statement demanding that industry treat the DCFN as if it were a regional government, which it aspires to be.

"It's our way or no way at all. We're not asking for too much," elder Leo Norwegian said afterwards.

"We can wait. We've gone without (a pipeline) for thousands of years. Even today, there's no pipeline but we still eat and sleep."

Delegates from Fort Simpson, Trout Lake, Jean Marie River and host Wrigley -- the four communities nearest the proposed pipeline route -- listened to a proposal from the Aboriginal Pipeline Group for one-third ownership of the pipeline. Arctigas Resource Corporation and Western Arctic Energy Corporation, each with separate proposals, offered 100 per cent aboriginal ownership.

"We need more time to analyze these options," Pehdzeh Ki Chief David Moses said.

Liidli Kue Chief Rita Cli and Tthek'ehdeli Chief Stan Sanguez agreed that careful consideration is needed to "get the best deal for our kids.

"We don't want to repeat what the Norman Wells (pipeline) did for us, because it did nothing," Sanguez said.

Chris Reid, chief negotiator for the DCFN, urged the chiefs to wait, reminding them that the pipeline is the best leverage they have in negotiating a resource revenue sharing agreement with the federal government.

At the same time, Reid told the chiefs to examine whether they really want any ownership in a pipeline, which also carries liability.

Nellie Cournoyea, co-chair of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, initially seemed frustrated by the talk of further delays.

"No one will be training for specific jobs unless we start now," she said. "This is a business partnership that is somehow getting caught up in the (land) claims issue."

However, by the end of the assembly, Cournoyea was more diplomatic, and told the delegates that the APG would be willing to work with them when they reach a conclusion.

Terms and conditions

First Nations in the Deh Cho want the following provisions in place for a Mackenzie Valley pipeline:

- The pipeline must be negotiated as part of the Deh Cho Process.

- A resource revenue sharing agreement must be attained with the federal government.

- Consent is required from hunters and trappers along the pipeline corridor.

- The Deh Cho must be a full participant in any environmental assessment for the pipeline.

- Impact benefits agreements and access fees to the land must be negotiated.